Claremont, Calif. - Sophomore Arthi Padmanabhan (Saratoga, Calif. - pictured), playing up a line at No. 3 singles, captured a three-set win to clinch the match as the Pomona-Pitzer Women's Tennis team edged Vassar 5-4 in its home opener on Wednesday evening at Pauley Courts.
With the win, the ninth-ranked Sagehens improve to 2-0 on the year, while No. 25 Vassar slips to 4-2 with the loss.
Pomona-Pitzer started out up 3-0 after the doubles portion of the contest, and No. 1 Jamie Solomon (Los Gatos, Calif.), ranked No. 14 nationally, cruised to a 6-1, 6-2 win to put the Sagehens ahead 4-0. However, Sammy Chao (Hong Kong, China) was pulled from No. 2 singles to protect a minor injury, and everyone else played up one line, which made earning the final clinching victory that much tougher for the Sagehens.
Vassar was able to pick up straight-set wins at No. 2 singles, with Ava Sadeghi defeating Kara Wang (Saratoga, Calif.) 6-4, 6-4, at No. 5 singles, where Jennifer Ruther defeated Emily Kawahara (Sacramento, Calif.) 6-4, 6-1, and at No. 6 singles, where Hannah Van Demark defeated Kristin Brikmanis (Aledo, Texas) 6-3, 6-3.
Nicole Holsted (Edmond, Okla.) won the first set for the Sagehens at No. 4, but Samantha Schapiro took the second set to level things at one set apiece, and suddenly it came down to a pair of three-setters to determined the match with Pomona-Pitzer ahead 4-3 and needing to win one or the other to get the victory.
Padmanabhan fell in the first set 7-5, but bounced back to win 6-2 in the second set and seemingly had the momentum, but lost her first service game of the third to Joy Backer to find herself trailing 2-0. However, she regrouped and immediately broke back, then won a long service game after fighting off several break points to pull even at 2-2. After breaking to take a 4-3 lead, she and Backer each held serve, giving Padmanabhan a chance to close it out with her serve up 5-4.
After Padmanabhan went up 30-0, a double fault and an unforced error off the tape brought the game to 30-30 and added to the drama. However, she responded with a forehand winner down the line and then capped off the victory with a service winner as Backer's return carried long over the baseline for the decisive point.
With the team victory in hand, Holsted stayed in her match at No. 4 singles by holding serve to get within 5-4. Schapiro, though, answered back on her serve for Vassar and earned her victory with a pretty lob that tucked just inside the baseline with Holsted at the net, making the final score 5-4 in favor of the Sagehens.
Pomona-Pitzer will be back in action on Friday when it hosts UC Santa Cruz at 2 p.m.
Pomona-Pitzer 5, Vassar 4
1 - Solomon-Wang (PP) def. Backer-Sadeghi 8-6
2 - Padmanabhan-Chao (PP) def. Beckerman-Schapiro 8-3
3 - Kawahara-Holsted (PP) def. Van Demark-Kantor 8-6
1 - Jamie Solomon (PP) def. Jennifer Beckerman 6-1, 6-2
2 - Ava Sadeghi (VC) def. Kara Wang 6-4, 6-4
3 - Arthi Padmanabhan (PP) def. Joy Backer 5-7, 6-2, 6-4
4 - Samantha Schapiro (VC) def. Nicole Holsted 4-6, 6-3, 6-4
5 - Jennifer Ruther (VC) def. Emily Kawahara 6-4, 6-1
6 - Hannah Van Demark (VC) def. Kristin Brikmanis 6-3, 6-3