Stags, Athenas Continue to Serve Up Great Seasons

This past week both the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps men's and women's tennis teams competed in their final regular season matches. The Stags (24-2, 7-0 SCIAC) swept Occidental College and Chapman University April 18 and then handed Vanguard University its first loss April 21 to cap off another strong week. The Athenas (19-1, 8-0 SCIAC) also swept Chapman and Occidental in a doubleheader, keeping their SCIAC record clean.

The two teams each designated their final matches as Senior Night to celebrate their graduating teammates, all four of whom had outstanding performances.

The Athenas’ lone senior, Sarah Kukino CM '15, played at No. 3 singles against Chapman where she defeated Andrea Hammer, the 50th-ranked player in Division III, in two sets. Kukino also played at No. 2 doubles against Chapman and No. 1 doubles against Occidental with partner Kyla Scott HM '18, winning both match-ups.

"I think there's been a lot of improvement in my singles and doubles, especially doubles," Kukino said. "At this point in the season, Kyla and I have really meshed well together, and I really love playing with her. We have very similar personalities and on-court demeanor, and our games are really complementary."

Between the two matches, everyone got into the lineup, making the win a real team effort according to Kukino. The Athenas next compete at the Ojai Valley Tournament April 23-26 and will be going in with an eleven-game winning streak against some tough competition that will prepare them for the SCIAC tournament approaching the following weekend.

"We'll be facing a lot of people we've never seen or played before," Kukino said. "For me, I just want to go to Ojai and do the best I can. Obviously for SCIAC it would be great if we took it home, but going into every match expecting to have a tough match, not really taking anything for granted and always bringing our highest level is all we can ask."

The Stags enjoyed similar success in their three most recent matches. Nik Marino CM '15, ranked No. 9 in the West Region, earned his 102nd singles victory after three matches this week and showed his versatility by playing with three different doubles partners. Joe Dorn CM '15 and Warren Wood CM '15 also continued their 15-game winning streak as the No. 1 doubles team in the West to help give the Lions their first loss of the season.

"Going into the match, we knew they were a good team—one of the toughest competitors of the year—so we tried to approach it like a quarterfinals match at Nationals," Dorn said. "Knowing this was the seniors' last regular-season home match added some extra excitement, and it took a bit of pressure off of us knowing that they were good opponents. We were ready for long battles and were prepared to ride the wave if things didn't go well in the beginning."

The men will also be competing at the Ojai this weekend, a tournament that is more individual and is more about building confidence, according to Dorn. As the seniors wrap up their careers, they hope to end on a high note and leave their legacies with CMS.

"We've all had great careers and exciting four years of tennis, and winning a national championship would make that complete, but we can't focus on the outcome," Dorn said. "We have to focus on what we can control, and right now [Ojai is a] great opportunity to get a lot of reps in before SCIACs and to just see the overall competition level in our conference."