The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps men’s and women’s tennis team got as far as they could, but both came up just a little short in their quests for NCAA Division III Championships.
Playing at Stowe Stadium on the campus of Kalamazoo College, the Stags held a 3-2 lead over Emory, which rallied for a 5-3 decision as the men ended the year with a 33-2 record. It was the second national title for Emory in the past three years, both coming against CMS.
The CMS women’s team was one win away from defending its national title they won last year, but ended up on the short end of a 5-4 defeat to No. 4 Wesleyan as the No. 2-ranked Athenas finish the year with a 27-2 record.
Nikolai Parodi and Julian Gordy played like they have all year long at No. 1 doubles overcoming an early 2-0 deficit for an 8-4 win for the first doubles point. Juniors Daniel Park and Oscar Burney then nearly pulled off an epic comeback at No. 2 doubles after being down 7-2, coming all the back to get on serve at 7-6 and having a chance to hold to get it to a tiebreaker, while the CMS No. 3 doubles team of sophomore Jack Katzman and Robert Liu led 6-4 before falling 8-6 to give Emory a 2-1 lead heading into singles.
The Stags ended up with two quick singles wins, as freshman Nic Meister was able to roll to a 6-2, 6-1 win at No. 6 and Katzman continued his undefeated spring in singles with a 6-2, 6-2 win at No. 2, giving CMS a 3-2 lead.
Parodi will continue on at both the NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships which get underway on Friday, joining Gordy in the doubles competition, while Katzman will also take part in the singles competition. The Stags will graduate three seniors off this year’s team, including Gordy, who has been a stalwart in the CMS doubles lineup, as well as Alfred Simental and Avinash Vemuri, but CMS will have five of its six NCAA singles players back, including Parodi and Katzman in the 1-2 spots.
CMS fell into a 2-1 deficit after doubles, before freshman Sarah Bahsoun brought the Athenas back even with a 6-0, 6-3 win at No. 6 singles.
Down 4-2, the Athenas continued to fight as sophomore Rebecca Berger overcame an early 4-0 deficit in the first set to capture a 6-4, 6-3 win at No. 3 and give CMS some life. Junior Catherine Allen followed with a late break to take a 6-3, 7-5 win at No. 1 singles and level the match at 4-4. Both Berger and Allen had singles wins in last year’s national championship match as well, a 5-4 win over Emory, making them 2-0 in their careers in NCAA Finals competition.
With the match already knotted up 4-4, freshman Sydney Lee won the second set at No. 4 singles (6-4) to earn a split, sending her match to a decisive third set which would determine the national title and momentum feeling like it was on the side of CMS.
Wesleyan’s Polina Kiseleva, though, responded to the challenge and jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the third set holding on to clinch the title.
Allen, Berger and junior Nicole Tan will all participate in the NCAA Division III Singles competition while Allen and junior Caroline Cox will be in the doubles competition. When team competition gets underway again next year, CMS will have almost its entire roster back, as senior Jessie Cruz (98-17 in her career), will be the only player that CMS graduates off the current team as it tries to make another run at a national title.