Chicago, Carnegie Mellon Shine on Day One of 2013 ITA Division III
National Women’s Team Indoor Championship
Johns Hopkins and Trinity pull upsets to advance
GREENCASTLE, Ind. (March 1) – The first day of action is in the books at the 2013 ITA Division III National Women’s Team Indoor Championship, hosted on the campus of DePauw University in Greencastle, Ind. The tournament’s top two seeds looked nearly unstoppable on Friday, as Chicago swept past Wisconsin-Whitewater 9-0, while Carnegie Mellon defeated Skidmore 8-1. Also moving on to the semifinals is Trinity, thanks to a thrilling 5-4 triumph over defending champion Washington & Lee, and Johns Hopkins, after taking down host DePauw 5-4.
In the day’s morning session, Carnegie Mellon raced out of the gates to seize control of all three doubles courts early. The Tartans got on the board with an 8-1 victory by Alex Tapak and Brooke Tsu at three doubles, which was followed up by an 8-4 decision in favor of Katie Cecil and Angela Pratt at the first spot. Chelsea Motie and Bryn Raschke finished off the doubles sweep by taking court two 8-3.
Carnegie Mellon's Chelsea Motie
Not wanting to give Skidmore any chance to rally, Carnegie Mellon’s top two singles players played determined tennis to build an insurmountable 5-0 lead. Cecil delivered an impressive 6-1, 6-0 performance against Nataly Mendoza, while Motie fought through a tough first set against Lee Ford to defeat the Thoroughbred 6-4, 6-0. Skidmore’s Melissa Hursch secured her team’s only point on the day by virtue of taking down Elizabeth Martin at the third spot.
“I thought we were really fundamentally sound in doubles today,” stated Carnegie Mellon head coach Andy Girard. “We are a young team, but when things click well like they did today, we are very good. It’s always nice to clinch the match early in singles. I give credit to Alex Tapak today, as she really did a great job of stepping in and providing leadership as a senior.”
The Tartans will next face sixth-seeded Trinity, as the Tigers were able to stun the Washington & Lee Generals 5-4. It was W&L who would enter singles play with a 2-1 advantage, but it appeared Trinity would be the team to claim the early lead.
After the Tigers’ Kristy Hamilton and Stephanie Williamson came through with an 8-2 win on court three, General duo Chelsea Mixson and Cameron Dorsey won at the second position 8-4. In the matchup on court one, W&L’s Patricia Kirkland and Sonja Meighan were up an early break, but Mackenzie Knoop and Thavindra Ekanayake were able to get back on serve. Knoop and Ekanayake would find themselves needing just one more point for the win, leading 7-6 and 0-40 on Kirkland’s serve, but they could not capitalize. At break point in the next game, Meighan drilled a backhand pass down the line, and then successfully served out the 9-7 victory.
The first two singles matches complete were quick two set matches, with each team taking one to push the score to 3-2 in favor of the Generals. With her team desperately needing to swing the momentum over to their side, Ekanayake was able to come through for the Tigers in a big way. She won the opening set 6-2 against Allison Hupalo, but fell behind in the second 5-2. The Trinity senior was able to close to within 5-4, but Hupalo won the next game to force a third set.
Trinity's Thavindra Ekanayake
The two players traded breaks early in the set, but it was Hupalo who consolidated her break to take a 4-1 lead, eventually stretching it out to 5-2. With her back against the wall, Ekanayake swung more freely from the baseline and attacked the net whenever possible, working her way back to 5-5. Hupalo battled to regain control of the match, but she failed to do so, as Ekanayake won the final five games for a 6-2, 4-6, 7-5 triumph.
The two teams split the next two matches to finish, leaving the overall score at 4-4 with the match at six singles to decide the victor. W&L’s Dorsey appeared to be in prime position after winning the first set 7-6(1), but Hamilton shook off the disappointment to take the second set quickly 6-1. It was a frustrating final set for Dorsey, as she was in control of nearly every point, but failed to put away numerous overheads and volleys. Hamilton hung tough in the rallies, hustling down almost every shot to pull out the set 6-2 and send her team to the semifinals.
“We knew that Washington & Lee is a tough team,” explained Trinity head coach Jacob McMindes. “I really wanted our team to go out there and enjoy the moment, but also not just be happy to be here. We made things tough on ourselves by getting down 2-1 after doubles. I think this match really helped us find our identity. We showed our toughness in being able to weather the storm.”
The second session of the day featured far less drama, as top seed Chicago came out all business against Wisconsin-Whitewater. The Maroons were pushed early in doubles by the Warhawks, but were still able to sweep all three points. Linden Li and Kelsey McGillis opened up the scoring with an 8-4 win at the second spot. Stephanie Lee and Sruthi Ramaswami were next off, taking court three 8-6. Megan Tang and Helen Shdvizhkov finished off the sweep at the top spot, earning a hard-fought 8-6 decision.
Chicago's Megan Tang
A pair of sophomores sealed the victory for Chicago with wins in singles. At the third position, McGillis was solid in defeating Vitale 6-2, 6-0. At the top position, Tang was nearly flawless throughout, not surrendering a single game to Divelbiss. The Maroons capped off the sweep of the Warhawks by not losing a set in singles play.
“I thought we played pretty well for our first match of the Championship,” said Chicago head coach Jay Tee. “We are a young team, and we suffered some nerves on a few courts, but we worked through them. We are really going to have to play well against Johns Hopkins tomorrow for us to have a chance.”
The Maroons will be taking on Johns Hopkins after the Blue Jays got past host institution DePauw 5-4. Johns Hopkins was able to take a 2-1 after doubles thanks to winning performances on courts one and three. Hailey Hogan and Elaine Baik won at the first spot 8-4, while Stephanie Rettig and Sydney Lehman battled for an 8-6 win at the third position.
The Blue Jays received domination efforts from the top two players in the singles lineup, as both Hogan and Baik won their matches by the score of 6-2, 6-1. That left Hopkins just one point short of advancing to the semifinals, but the Blue Jays would have to hold off a DePauw rally first.
Johns Hopkins' Sydney Lehman
The Tigers stayed alive when Claire Marshall took down Shannon Herndon at the third spot 6-4, 6-3, making the overall score 4-2 in favor of Johns Hopkins. Not wanting things to get any more interesting, Lehman came through for the Blue Jays, knocking off Caroline Ernhardt 6-1, 6-2 at the fourth spot in a match that was closer than the score indicated.
Play continues on Saturday at 8 am ET with consolation action. Click here for the updated draw.