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Johns Hopkins Claims Third Straight ITA Division III National Women's Team Indoor Championship
 

Law clinches third match of weekend for Blue Jays

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GREENCASTLE, IN (March 1) - Johns Hopkins made history on Sunday, becoming the first team to win three consecutive ITA Division III National Women's Team Indoor Championships, as they defeated Carnegie Mellon 6-3 at DePauw University.

 

The Blue Jays remain perfect in finals appearances, with three wins in as many tries. The Tartans fall to 1-4 in finals, having lost the last four after winning the inaugural championship in 2009. Johns Hopkins sophomore Jody Law remained perfect, winning her fifth match of the weekend. All three of Law's matches secured the fifth point for the Blue Jays.

 

"I feel really good about it," Law said. "It makes me feel like I was a really important part of the team. Honestly, I think it was just where I was in the lineup that caused it to happen, but it still felt really good to finish it off for our team."

Johns Hopkins, 2015 ITA Division III National Women's Team Indoor Champions

 

"She's one of those players that you can count on whenever you need it," Johns Hopkins head coach Dave Woodring said. "Tennis is not necessarily known as a team sport. Jody gets it. She's willing to do whatever for the team. There are never any problems or grumblings about doing this or that, she's a great person to have on the team."

 

Today's match was intense right from the beginning of doubles. Exclamations followed nearly every point, with Johns Hopkins drawing first blood by winning 8-4 at second doubles. Sydney Lehman and Elaine Baik countered Carnegie Mellon's two-back approach by poaching aggressively at every opportunity.

 

The Tartan's first doubles pair of Bryn Raschke and Cori Sidell capped off an unblemished weekend with an 8-4 win to tie the match at 1-all. Carnegie Mellon led for most of the match at No. 3 doubles and had three match points at 7-6, but Law and Megumi Chen fended them off and took six of the last seven games to win 9-7 and nudge Johns Hopkins to a 2-1 advantage.

 

"All of our doubles teams this year are new," Woodring said. "Quite honestly, I was talking to Jay from Chicago prior to the tournament and I said, 'I'm really not sure. We haven't seen these teams perform in competition.' I'm pretty happy, doubles really worked out well."

Ashnaa Rao shifted the momentum in singles with her win

 

Carnegie Mellon sensed urgency and came out firing in the top three singles matches, claiming the first set in each. However, Blue Jay sophomore Ashnaa Rao reversed the momentum of the team match by winning a quick 6-1 second set. Next to Rao on court two, fellow sophomore Amanda Austi held a big 5-1 lead in the second set, but Tartan Angela Pratt rattled off five straight games and eventually won the match in a tie-break.

 

With the team match tied at 2-all, Rao slapped a huge inside-out forehand to earn her second break point at 4-all, which she would convert. Though broken when serving for the match, Rao played a much cleaner tie-break than her opponent to put the Blue Jays back ahead.

 

A third tie-break was being played at third singles and Blue Jay Sydney Lehman came back from 5-2 down in the breaker to pick up her third singles win of the week over Tartan Nicholle Torres. Coming into the match, neither competitor had lost a set in two previous singles matches.

 

Needing just one more win in the next three matches, Law jumped out to a set and 5-2 lead. She served for the match, but was broken by Sidell, who consolidated the break for 4-5 and took a 0-30 lead in Law's next service game. Johns Hopkins' sophomore claimed the next four points to make the Blue Jays the first team to win three times at the event.

 

"This is my first time at Indoors," Law said. "I had a lot of nerves coming into this, not knowing what to expect. Our team atmosphere was great and everyone was so supportive of each other. It just made me really confident on the court."

Jody Law clinched the title for the Blue Jays

 

Law utilized a high, heavy ball to break down Sidell, who's relatively small in stature. However, that was just one of many different styles Law implemented to break down her opponents over the weekend.

 

"When I started playing tennis, my whole game was just keeping the ball in," she said. "From there, my coach developed different aspects of the game. My go-to if I'm losing or getting nervous is just to keep it in and that's always been successful for me. My favorite shot is an inside-out forehand, but I didn't get to use it too much today or yesterday because the girls were hitting really deep."

 

Despite beating the Tartans for the third straight time at the championships, Woodring was quick to compliment the opposition.

 

"I have to give credit to Carnegie Mellon," he said. "The girls are great. The coaching staff does a great job. The girls are well-disciplined and they can really play tennis. Anytime we play, we know it's going to be a battle. We've been fortunate the last few years to come out on top. As many times as we've beaten them in the last several years, before they were doing the same to us. It's a real good rivalry."

 

It hasn't always been like this for the Blue Jays. In two appearances prior to 2013, Johns Hopkins finished seventh and eighth, going 1-5 overall.

 

"It's always great to win," Woodring said. "There were a few years when we came here when the tournament just started and we were the people playing at 4 o'clock in the morning. It's great to come back and repeat. It's quite an honor."

 

In the 3rd-place match, Chicago bested Washington University-St. Louis 6-3 to take third for the third consecutive year.

 

About the ITA Division III National Women's Team Indoor Championships

The ITA Division III National Women's Team Indoor Championship is held annually each February. The women's event began in 2009 and will be held for the seventh time in 2015. The event features eight participating teams and is held over three days, beginning on Friday with the quarterfinals, followed by semifinals on Saturday and the final on Sunday. Two different schools have hosted the event, while Emory (2), Johns Hopkins (2), Carnegie Mellon (1) and Washington & Lee (1) are past champions.