Upsets Rule Day One of 2012 ITA Division III National Women’s Team Indoor Championship

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Upsets Rule Day One of 2012 ITA Division III National Women’s Team Indoor Championship
Top three seeds go down in defeat in the opening round

GREENCASTLE, Ind. – After the first day of play at the 2012 ITA Division III National Women’s Team Indoor Championship, hosted by DePauw University at the Indoor Tennis and Track Center in Greencastle, Ind., only one of the top four seeds remains alive for the title. Four seed Washington & Lee slipped past fifth-seeded Johns Hopkins to advance to the semifinals, but top-seeded Chicago, two seed Denison, and three seed Claremont-Mudd-Scripps all suffered defeat.

The morning session featured a pair of upsets, with the sixth-seeded Carnegie Mellon Tartans cruising past CMS 8-1, along with the seven seed Washington University putting away Denison 6-3.

Carnegie Mellon made it difficult for CMS right from the start, sweeping doubles play for a 3-0 advantage. The Tartans took lines one and three fairly comfortably, but it was the matchup at line two that proved to be a huge victory for Carnegie Mellon. Down a break for most of the match, Chelsea Motie and Katie Cecil finally grabbed the lead at 6-5 over Crystal Lim and Sarah Kukino. The match remained on serve until the final game, when a perfectly executed lob dropped in for Cecil, completing the doubles sweep.

Singles play provided little drama, as the Athenas were not given any opportunity for a comeback. The duo of Cecil and Motie came up equally as big in singles. Cecil did not surrender a game against Crystal Lim at the second position, while Motie secured a solid 6-1, 6-1 victory over Kukino to clinch the match for the Tartans. At the first spot, CMS’ Kristin Lim provided the Athenas with their only point of the day, fighting to earn a 6-4, 6-4 decision against Laura Chen. Carnegie Mellon’s Courtney Chin and Cze-Ja Tam also delivered straight sets wins, while Angela Pratt was pushed to three sets, but still emerged victorious in her match at the fifth position.

“On paper, we were the underdog today,” Carnegie Mellon head coach Andy Girard stated. “We have a lot of new faces this year. The team really has a new energy. Our goal is to improve on what we did a year ago. Getting the doubles sweep was obviously huge. I thought they played good doubles and really made us earn it. This team has a good blend of senior leaders and young talent.”

Wash U was not able to sweep doubles action against Dension, but taking two out of three was an impressive task considering the slow starts the Bears suffered on courts one and two. Denison ran away with court one 8-2, and held a 7-4 lead on court two before letting it slip away. The match would be decided in a tiebreak, in which the Wash U duo of Kate Klein and Theresa Petraskova claimed the final five points for the 9-8 (5) decision. The Bears also took court three 8-5 for the 2-1 lead going into singles play.

The Big Red seemed to be ready to take control of the match after getting a couple of tough straight sets wins from Sarah Short at line one and Alex Marcell at line three. Petraskova made sure the Bears hung with Denison going into the final three singles matches, defeating Kelsey Geppner 7-6 (5), 6-3 at the second spot to even the overall score at 3-3. Wash U also took the next match off court, as Hanna Newstadt was able to win a tight first set before running away with the match 7-5, 6-0 against Lilianna Brousssalian.

The final two matches in play were three-set battles. At the fourth spot, it was Kate vs. Kate, as Wash U’s Kate Klein was up against the Big Red’s Kate Westenberger. Klein managed to win the first set 6-3, but failed to close out the match in straight sets, losing the second 7-6 (4) to Westenberger. Klein bounced back quickly in the final set, taking control early and putting away the set 6-2, advancing the Bears to the semifinals. At line fine, Wash U’s Betsy Edershile dropped the opening set to Denison’s Heather Abzug, but fought her way through the second to win it 7-6 (5). Neither player was able to pull away in the final set, but it was Edershile who was able to come up big in the final games, taking the decisive set 7-5.

Smiles for Wash U
Wash U walked away all smiles from its match with Denison

“This is just our second match of the season,” Washington University head coach Kelly Stahlhuth explained. “It’s difficult because you think you are ready after five weeks of practice, but you can’t be sure. We were tired of playing each other though. I thought we were aggressive today, but still worked on constructing points. It was all about balancing the two out there today. We just haven’t had enough matches yet this season, so we are still looking for our rhythm, but we did a good job of pressing them. Denison is a tough team. We knew this match would come down to the wire. They are a deep team and never quit.”

The afternoon session featured a pair of matches that ended in 5-4 decisions. In the four/five matchup, four seed Washington & Lee defeated Johns Hopkins by the slightest of margins, while home team and eight seed DePauw stunned first-seeded Chicago 5-4.

Washington & Lee got ahead of the Blue Jays early, claiming doubles lines one and three 8-5. Johns Hopkins was able to salvage the matchup at the second spot to avoid being swept. The Jays’ Nandita Krishnan evened the overall score at 2-2, taking the first set easily at the third position 6-1 before having to battle back in the second to win it 7-6 (3). The General’s Sonja Meighan pushed her team back in front 3-2 thanks to a comprehensive 6-1, 6-3 defeat of Elaine Baik.

Hopkins got a straight sets victory from Abby Clark at line five, inching the Jays one point closer to the Generals. The next match off court also went to Hopkins, but it was a struggle for Shannon Herndon. She lost the opening set 6-3 to Washington & Lee’s Lindsey Burke, but hung in a tight second set to claim it 7-5. With both players continuing to hit out and go for their shots, Herndon found the mark a few more times than Burke, winning the decisive set 7-5 to even the overall score at 4-4. However, the match would not be tied for more than a few minutes. At line six, the Generals’ Patricia Kirkland was up a set on the Jays’ Stephanie Rettig and trying to close out the victory for her team. With the matchup at the fourth position wrapping up in favor of Hopkins, Kirkland could have tensed up under the pressure. Luckily for her, she was only points away from delivering the clincher, which she did so successfully 6-2, 6-3.

“We did a good job of getting ahead early in singles,” Washington & Lee head coach Eric Ishida said. “We took first sets at No. 1 and No. 2. The second set at No. 1 took a little longer than we thought it would. The match at No. 3 was a great match. Jen Snyder put up a good fight, but just couldn’t close out the second set. We knew we had to keep winning as the other matches went on, but we felt good about the players we had out there. It was definitely a blessing that the finish of the final two matches was instantaneous. It came down to a couple of freshmen, and if they were out there another half hour, who knows what could have happened.”

The Chicago/DePauw match may have been the most entertaining of the day, especially considering both teams were not at full strength. The Tigers were able to take two of the three doubles matches in comfortable fashion, setting the stage for the upset. The Maroons more than put up a fight, even without two of its top players. Chicago took the first two singles matches off court, moving the Maroons ahead in the overall score 3-2. DePauw’s Maggie MacPhail steadied the Tigers, coming through with an impressive 1-6, 6-1, 7-6 (5) victory at the second position against Carmen Vaca Guzman. MacPhail trailed 4-1 in the final set, having to fight off a match point before pulling out the win.

The bottom of the lineup provided three straight-set results, but all three matches were highly competitive. Chicago’s Claire Marshall took the match at line four 6-3, 6-4 over Megan Tang, moving the Maroons ahead 4-3. That lead did not hold up for long though, as DePauw’s Katie Regan took down Maggie Schumann 6-2, 6-3. The final match of the night featured a pair of players not normally in their respective lineups. The Tigers’ Kaitlin Pickrel won the opening set 6-3 against Anastasia Kaiser, but Kaiser picked up her level of play in the second. Three separate times Kaiser held a break advantage in the second set, but she was never able to solidify the break. Pickrel pulled ahead 4-3, on serve, but Kaiser managed to hold for 4-4. Pickrel fought her way to a hold for 5-4, putting the pressure back on Kaiser. The Maroon did her best to hang in, but lost the match in the most unfortunate of ways, double faulting on match point to give DePauw the upset victory.

DePauw victory
DePauw's Kaitlin Pickrel is mobbed by teammates after clinching
the 5-4 upset over Chicago

“First, I was extremely impressed with Chicago tonight,” DePauw head coach Scott Riggle stated. “They were without their No. 1 and No. 4 singles players, and yet we were still fortunate to beat them. Coach Bertrand has done an amazing job with that team this season. She is holding them to a high standard, and I think she has proven herself as a head coach already. That is the second toughest team we have played so far this season, with the toughest being the Chicago team we played two weeks ago. We beat an outstanding team tonight. We showed a lot of heart, being without our No. 4 player as well. I thought we played solid doubles, which put less pressure on our singles. Maggie MacPhail played like a senior the way she showed the ability to adjust and just continued to fight hard. It was really an overall team effort tonight. The girls were all supporting each other, cheering for each other. We had a lot of parental support tonight as well. It was a high energy match for us.”

Play continues on Saturday at 8:30 am (ET) with consolation action.

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