Pomona-Pitzer Fights Until Last Point, But Falls To CMS In Regional Finals

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Claremont, Calif. - Senior Nicole Holsted (Edmund, Okla. - pictured) won 8-5 at doubles with fellow senior Emily Kawahara (Sacramento, Calif.) and then earned a 6-2, 6-2 win in singles, but it was not enough as Claremont-Mudd-Scripps picked up a thrilling 5-3 win over Pomona-Pitzer in the NCAA West Regional finals on Sunday.

The loss ends Pomona-Pitzer's season at 16-7, although No. 1 singles player Jamie Solomon (Los Gatos, Calif.) will move on to play in the NCAA singles competition in Cary, North Carolina later this month.

The match was ultimately decided at No. 3 singles, where junior Kara Wang (Saratoga, Calif.) heroically gave it everything she had against Sarah Kukino in a third set in which she was battling severe cramping. Wang trailed 5-2 in the third set and needed a medical timeout to get stretched, and then stopped serving overhand. She used as much time as she could between points, getting a stall warning from the chair umpire. Often, she wouldn't even try to hit ground strokes, she would just keep hitting high lobs as close to the baseline as she could while trying to rest her legs while the ball was in flight. 

Despite the difficulties in moving, she fought off four match points on her service game to cut it to 5-4 and then fought off three more match points on Kukino's serve to win another game at deuce to get the match back even. She was able to take one final game to force a tiebreaker, before Kukino was able to hit several ground strokes down the lines where Wang couldn't track them down to take a 7-2 win in the tiebreaker and give the Athenas the 5-3 win.   

The Sagehens trailed 4-1 and needed to sweep the final four singles courts in order to come back for the win, but despite the long odds, Pomona-Pitzer fought their way back. Holsted picked up her win at No. 6 to make the score 5-2, and sophomore Sammy Chao (Hong Kong, China) came back for a three-set win (5-7, 6-1, 6-4) after falling behind 5-0 in the first set to close to within 4-3.

As Wang was hanging on by a thread at 3 singles, sophomore Arthi Padmanabhan (Saratoga, Calif.) was up a set and trying to close out her match at 4, but was unable to win the second set against Jessie Huang, falling 7-6 in a tiebreaker. They had just started the third set as Wang's match concluded, which clinched the victory for CMS and ended the competition at 5-3.  

Pomona-Pitzer lost 9-0 to Claremont-Mudd-Scripps in the regular season, but battled the Athenas evenly in the postseason both times, falling 5-4 in the SCIAC Championship match and then 5-3 in the NCAA Regional finals.

Chao ended her sophomore season a perfect 15-0 against Division III opponents with her three-set win over Crystal Lim. Her only defeat of the spring came against a nationally ranked Division II opponent from Cal State Los Angeles at the Ojai Valley Tournament in April.



Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 5, Pomona-Pitzer 3

Doubles
        CMS             Pomona-Pitzer   Winner  Score
1.      K. Lim-Huang    v.      Solomon-Wang    CMS     8-3
2.      Kukino-C. Lim   v.      Chao-Padmanabhan        CMS     8-2
3.      Dobbert-Smrecek v.      Holsted-Emily Kawahara  P-P     8-5

Singles
        CMS             Pomona-Pitzer   Winner  Score
1.      Kristin Lim     v.      Jamie Solomon   CMS     6-0, 6-1
2.      Crystal Lim     v.      Samantha Chao   P-P     5-7, 6-1, 6-4
3.      Sarah Kukino    v.      Kara Wang       CMS     3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (2)
4.      Jessie Huang    v.      Arthi Padmanabhan               5-7, 7-6 DNF
5.      Chloe Dobbert   v.      Jessica Hsu     CMS     6-0, 6-1
6.      Jacklyn Smrecek v.      Nicole Holsted  P-P     6-2, 6-2

Order of finish:
Doubles: 2, 1, 3
Singles: 1, 5, 6, 2, 3

CMS (22-3) advances to the NCAA quarterfinals May 21 in Cary, NC.
Pomona-Pitzer finishes 16-7.