Gritty 6-3 win over No. 5 Pomona-Pitzer keeps Athenas perfect

Lindsay Brown (Photo by Alicia Tsai)
Lindsay Brown (Photo by Alicia Tsai)

CLAREMONT, Calif. – The No. 2 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps women's tennis team finished the SCIAC season in style with the 6-3 victory over Pomona-Pitzer under the lights on Thursday night. The Athenas (22-0, 7-0) went up 2-1 after doubles and then held on in four singles matches for the victory and the the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament May 6-7.

In doubles play, CMS took the 2-1 lead with an impressive comeback from junior Lindsay Brown (CMC) and freshman Nicole Tan (CMC) on court one. The pair was down 4-1, but then held and broke for a two-game swing. Maryann Zhao and Emily Chen went up 5-3 but then the Athenas went on a 5-1 run to close out the pro set. Tan set the pace with strong play at the baseline while Brown went to work at the net. The tides had clearly turned when Brown held serve to tie up the match 6-6. Two games later, Tan was serving for the match and the CMS advantage going into singles.

On court two, senior Katie Kuosman (CMC) and Catherine Allen (CMC) came out of the gates hot and earned two quick breaks to go up 3-0. Caroline Casper and Arianna Chen rallied back and then Allen and Casper held serve to make it 5-4 in CMS' favor. The Athena pair won two in a row due to superb play at the net. Allen was then able to finish out the match to win it 8-4 for the Athenas' first team point.

Joy Kim and Grace Hruska evened the team score with a win at No. 3 doubles. Junior Kyla Scott (HMC) and freshman Madison Shea (CMC) played an aggressive match but with more unforced errors than winners, eventually losing 8-3.

"Getting that first doubles point was really important," said Brown after the match. "We knew they [Pomona-Pitzer] were going to fight tonight and every match was crucial."

Back at No. 2 singles, Tan looked comfortable and confident. She notched the first set win for CMS at 6-4 vs. Maryann Zhao and then continued to pick up momentum. Tan put the Athenas up 3-1 with the 6-0 win in the second set.

Down at No. 6, freshman Ana Bryan-Ajania (SC) started off in a 4-0 hole and crawled back within striking distance. Her opponent, Emily Chen, worked her way to the 6-3 win in the first set and then dealt Bryan-Ajania the 6-2 loss in the second.

Shortly thereafter, Allen earned CMS its fourth team point with another straight set victory. The freshman struggled with her serve early in the match but then rattled off five games in a row to take the first set, 6-3. Feeding off the growing momentum on the courts, Allen's second set was a quick 6-3 and brought the Athenas within one point of the win.

Brown had success mixing speed and placement all over the court. With her drop shot on point, she won 6-3 in the first set and then quickly went up two breaks at 4-1 in second.  For the first time this season that she can remember, Brown clinched the match for CMS with her 6-2 win in the second set.

Scott found herself in the singles lineup for the first time since playing MIT on March 29.  She battled through the first set, losing 6-4, but bounced back for the 6-3 win in the second. The veteran remained cooled and collected in the match tiebreaker but ultimately fell 10-5 to the strong and persistent Casper.

The final team point of the match came down to no. 4 singles. Cruz and Mae Coyiuto exchanged sets as Cruz delivered a strong performance in the first, but then battled frustration in the second. Cruz took the lead early in the match tiebreaker and then finished off the match with a backhand slice down the line to win it 10-6.

The Athenas maintain their undefeated streak both in SCIAC play and overall, now at 22 matches. The final dual match of the regular season will be played against UC Irvine at 1 p.m. at the Biszantz Family Tennis Center on Saturday, April 22.

Results

By Emily Nordhoff
Sports Information Director

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