May 24, 2014

Doubles Run Comes To End In NCAA Semifinals

Claremont, Calif. - Claremont-Mudd-Scripps won a 20-minute, 11-deuce game late in the second set, fighting off four set points, to seize momentum and take a hard-fought 6-3, 7-5 win over Pomona-Pitzer in the NCAA Division III Women's Tennis Doubles Championships on Saturday. 

The Sagehen team of senior Sammy Chao and sophomore Lea Lynn Yen (pictured receiving their third-place trophies) end their season after reaching the national semifinals in both the fall (ITA Nationals) and the spring (NCAA Championships). The CMS team of Caroline Ward and Katie Kuosman advance to the championship match against the winner between Amherst and Emory. 

The pivotal game of the match came after the Sagehens fought off a break point to hold for a 5-4 lead in the second set, needing a break in order to split and force the match to a third set. Ward served for CMS, which took a quick 40-0 lead, but the Sagehens battled back to deuce.

From there, the two teams went through 11 deuces, with Pomona-Pitzer earning four set points. The best chance of the four came as Yen tried to go up the middle between the two CMS players at the net, but the ball hit off the tape and popped up in the air, staying in play, before the Athenas were able to run it down and stay in the point.

The final point of the game saw CMS set up an overhead after a strong serve from Ward, and the Sagehens were able to keep the ball in play with a defensive lob. The ensuing sequence saw six straight overheads, alternating between Kuosman and Ward, and six straight defensive lobs from the Sagehens, alternating between Chao and Yen, who chased several balls down in the corner to stay in the point. The final lob, though, carried inches out of bounds over the baseline to pull CMS back even in the second set at 6-3, 5-5.

Chao won the first point on her serve, but the Athenas took the next four in a row to break and bring the momentum into the final changeover. In the last game, with the Sagehens needing a break to stay alive, Ward had three volley winners, including match point at 40-15, to seal the win and send CMS through to the finals.   

Chao graduates as a two-time All-American, after also earning All-America honors in doubles last year with graduated senior Kara Wang. Chao and Yen had clinched All-America honors already in the fall by winning the ITA West Regionals (7-6, 7-6 over Ward and Kuosman), and moved on to the semis in the spring by knocking off the top seed in the field (Lindsay Raulston and Shelby Harris of Mary Washington) in the quarterfinals.