Sagehens Can't Overcome Slow Starts, Fall To CMS In Regional Final

Claremont, Calif. - The Pomona-Pitzer Women's Tennis team fell into a 3-0 hole after doubles and couldn't overcome it as CMS took a 5-0 win in the NCAA Division III Regional finals on Sunday.

With the loss, the Sagehens conclude their season at 17-8 (other than senior Sammy Chao and sophomore Lea Lynn Yen, who were invited to the NCAA Doubles Championship beginning on May 22). CMS advances to the NCAA Division III national quarterfinals, which it will host from May 19-21.

Pomona-Pitzer started slowly in both doubles and singles, but started to find its footing in singles a little bit too late. Sophomore Mae Coyiuto and Chao both fell into 4-0 holes quickly at No. 1 and No. 2 singles, but Chao came all the way back to force a tiebreaker before falling in the first 7-6. Chao then held a 5-0 lead in the second set when the match was called after CMS earned the team clinch (with singles wins at No. 6 and No. 5).

Coyiuto, meanwhile, came back to within 5-3 in the first and had a break point to get back on serve, before Caroline Ward fought it off with a service winner and took the first set 6-3. Coyiuto held a 3-2 lead in the second set when the match was called while Yen led 4-2 in the second set at No. 3 against Chloe Dobbert looking for a split after Dobbert won the first set 6-2.

Senior Arthi Padmanabhan (pictured), playing in her final match, held a 6-5 lead in the first set but dropped a tiebreaker as well and had just gotten the second set underway as the match ended.

In doubles, CMS took an 8-1 win at No. 3 for the first point of the match, and jumped out to a 6-1 lead at No. 1. Chao and Yen were able to win back-to-back games to put a little bit of pressure on the Athenas, but Ward and Katie Kuosman held coming out of the changeover and earned a break to finish off the 8-3 win.

At No. 2, the Sagehen team of Coyiuto and Padmanabhan fell behind 5-2, but broke to get back to 5-3 and rallied from an 0-40 hole to get back to deuce. CMS took the next two points for 6-3, though, and then fought off two straight break points to hold for 7-3 before finishing off an 8-3 win and a convincing doubles sweep (8-3, 8-3, 8-1).

The momentum carried over into singles and it appeared that the Sagehens would fall quickly, but Chao and Padmanabhan showed some senior leadership in rallying back and swinging the momentum. Yvonne Likomanova pulled away in the second set with the final three games against senior Claire Willey for a 6-3, 6-2 win at No. 6 to make the score 4-0. Freshman Maddie Gordon trailed Crystal Lim 6-4, 3-0 at one point, fought back to within 3-2 in the second, but Lim held for a 6-4, 6-3 win at No. 5 to end the match.

Pomona-Pitzer loses four-year starters Chao and Padmanabhan going into next season, but will have Coyiuto, Yen and Gordon returning to the singles line-up, as well as freshman Rosemary Pelch, who was a regular starter this season.