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DIII Women's 2016 #ITAIndoors Day 3 Recap Graphic-2016-02-28

– Pomona-Pitzer entered the 2016 women’s tennis season with questions about how a team with just five upperclassmen on its roster of 15 would fare.

After the past three days of competition at the 2016 ITA Division III National Women’s Team Indoor Championship, the Sagehens are feeling pretty good about how quickly this relatively young team has bonded together.

In Sunday’s championship match against top-seeded Carnegie Mellon, No. 2 Pomona-Pitzer came out firing on all cylinders and by the time the match was completed, the Sagehens hadn’t dropped a single match en route to winning their first-ever #ITAIndoors title by a 5-0 score at the DePauw Tennis and Track Center on the campus of DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana.

“We just played better and better as the week went on,” said Pomona-Pitzer head coach Dr. Ann Lebedeff. “We’re still missing a couple of people, but the ones who were here competed hard. We have a lot of freshman and sophomores, and the doubles really was key for us the last three days. We had leads of 3-0, 2-1 and 3-0 in our matches after the doubles and in this kind of format, it’s huge.”

Lebedeff, who returned to the courts this year after a two-year hiatus, said her team passed all of its tests in Greencastle.

“We don’t play indoors, that’s a test. We had kind of grueling trip getting over here, that was a test,” said Lebedeff. “It’s the first stage of our season and we wanted to play this event to see how tough the girls were. We had two great recruiting classes the last two years. It’s a really good start for us and we’ll see what happens.

“It’s the first time we’ve won this event,” said Lebedeff. “It’s a big deal for the school and a big deal for Division III tennis.”

The Sagehens (3-1) darted out to a 3-0 advantage over the Tartans (8-2) following doubles, scoring victories on all three courts. Pomona-Pitzer’s No. 2 duo of Lea Lynn Yen and Caroline Casper notched the first point with an 8-5 win over Jamie Vizelman and Brooke Tsu. At No. 1 doubles, Maryann Zhao and Emily Chen got past Cori Sidell and Minami Makino 8-5, and at No. 3 doubles, Joy Kim and Arianna Chen outlasted Nicholle Torres and Abbey Hamstra 9-8 (2).

“After the 7-4 lead in third doubles, if we had lost that it’s a momentum shift for them,” said Lebedeff. “They’re in the match and know that if they take a couple (of singles matches), they’re right back in the match.”

Pomona-Pitzer carried its doubles momentum into singles, winning the opening set in the No.’s 1-3 positions. Only needing two points to carry the match, the Sagehens secured both with Casper’s 6-2, 6-4 win at No. 2 over Torres, and Zhao’s 6-1, 6-2 victory at No. 3 versus Sidell.

“It’s an indescribable feeling,” said Yen, a senior and team captain. “We were here two years ago and I think we got fourth-place that year, going one-and-two at the tournament. For this year, to have everyone come out and be on their A-game all three matches was absolutely incredible. For our freshman to step up the way they did, I’m just so happy for them.”

In the third-place match, Johns Hopkins defeated Sewanee 5-3.