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Alisha Chulani and Nikolina Batsoshvili earned All-America honors for the third time
Alisha Chulani and Nikolina Batsoshvili earned All-America honors for the third time

Batoshvili/Chulani Finish as National Runner-Up in Doubles for CMS Women's Tennis

ST. LOUIS, Mo. – Nikolina Batoshvili and Alisha Chulani fought off a match point in the second set to win in a tiebreaker and force a third, but ended up falling in three sets to Olivia Soffer and Matia Cristiani of Babson 6-1, 6-7 (1), 6-4 on Monday in the NCAA Division III Women's Tennis Doubles Championship at the Dwight Davis Tennis Center.

The top-seeded Athenas won a three-setter earlier in the day, taking a 6-1, 3-6, 6-4 victory over Caitlyn Ferrante and Sarah Youngberg of Wesleyan in the semifinals, before batting the fourth-seeded duo from Babson in the finals.

Batoshvili and Chulani looked like they were on the ropes in the second set against Babson, trailing 6-1, 2-0 and down 0-40 on their serve. However, Chulani was able to hold with four straight points, and CMS used their first surge of momentum in the match to go ahead 3-2.

However, the momentum then swung back to Babson, which came back from 15-40 down to hold to get back even at 3-3 and won the next two games to go ahead 5-3. The Beavers had two chances to serve it out, but CMS was able to break both times, fighting off a match point at deuce trailing 6-5 when Batoshvili had a winning volley at the net. CMS then dominated the tiebreaker, winning the final six points in a row to take it 7-1 and earn the split.

The Athenas broke on a deuce point to start the third set, and then held on another deuce point when Batoshvili came through with a clutch service winner for a 2-0 lead. However, Babson fought back and went ahead 5-3 with a third chance to serve it out, but at 15-15, Chulani won a point with quick hands at the net and then had a return winner to help the Athenas break to get back on serve.

The final game, though, saw the net play the biggest role of all, as Babson twice hit the net and had the ball stay in, forcing CMS to play a defensive shot before Babson was able to finish the points with winners. Meanwhile the Athenas hit the tape twice and had it fall back on the wrong side of the net, once tantalizing rolling across the top of the net for a few revolutions before dropping back on the CMS side to put the Athenas down 0-30.

In the first match of the day, CMS was able outlast Sarah Youngberg and Caitlyn Ferrante of Wesleyan in the semifinals in a very tight battle in the third set, winning 6-1, 3-6, 6-4. The Athenas trailed 4-2 in the third set, but won the last four games in a row, including the last three by taking deuce points.

Over the course of the match, CMS was able to fight off 11 of 13 break points, including twice coming back from 15-40 down in the first set to win it 6-1. In the third set, CMS won five of its six games by taking deuce points, with the only exception coming when the Athenas held at love after falling down 4-2 to swing the momentum.

Batoshvili and Chulani will earn All-America honors in doubles for the third time in their careers. They also finished 12-2 in dual matches at nationals on their way to two team national titles, going 5-0 in 2022, 3-2 in 2023 and 4-0 this year, including two key wins in the national championship matches against Chicago.