Claremont, Calif. - Arthi Padmanabhan (Saratoga, Calif. - pictured) won in both singles and doubles for the tenth straight match, but the top-seeded CMS Women's Tennis team prevailed 5-3 in the NCAA Regional finals on Sunday afternoon at Biszantz Tennis Complex.
With the win, CMS remains undefeated on year at 31-0 and advances to the Division III Nationals next weekend in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The Sagehens end their season with a 15-7 record.
Pomona-Pitzer showed great fight in doubles to take a 2-1 lead heading into singles. Padmanabhan and freshman Lea Lynn Yen (Fullerton, Calif.) won their tenth straight match at No. 3 doubles, winning 8-5 to level the team score at 1-1.
The swing point in doubles came down to No. 2, where senior Jamie Solomon (Los Gatos, Calif.) and freshman Mae Coyiuto (Makati City, Philippines) were playing together for only the second time all season, due to an injury to freshman Marie Fleming (Boston, Mass.), who is Solomon's usual partner. After taking a 2-0 lead, the Sagehens fell behind 7-4 and were on the ropes, but dug down to get back even, winning an extended game after many deuces to make it 7-6.
With the momentum on their side, Solomon and Coyiuto were able to pick up another key break after pulling even and earn a 9-7 win, giving the Sagehens the 2-1 lead.
However, the tables were turned in singles, as CMS earned quick wins from Kristin Lim at 1 and Chloe Dobbert at 5 to take the lead. Sarah Kukino then outlasted Marie Fleming (Boston, Mass.) 6-4, 7-5 at No. 4 singles to stretch the lead to 4-2.
Padmanabhan had been cruising in singles recently, including a 6-0, 6-0 win over Dobbert in the SCIAC Championship and a 6-0, 6-1 win in the NCAA Regional semifinals over Redlands. She won 6-1 in the first set and held a 3-0 lead in the second, but ended up needing to go to a tiebreaker, where she prevailed 7-4 to end her season with a 10-match win streak.
Moments after she won, though, Caroline Ward picked up a 6-4, 6-2 win over Coyiuto at 2 for the clinching point. Junior Sammy Chao (Hong Kong) had just forced a third set at 3 with a 6-1 win in the second set, but her match was left unfinished.
Chao and senior Kara Wang (Saratoga, Calif.) will have their seasons continue on at the NCAA Division III Doubles Championships in Kalamazoo, Michigan.