After Falling Just Short In 2017, Stags And Athenas Aim To Claim NCAA Championships This Season
Danny Klain | Feb. 2, 2018, 12:07 a.m.
After years of continuous SCIAC dominance, the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps men’s and women’s tennis teams will try keep their dynasties alive in 2018.
The Stags have enjoyed 12 consecutive undefeated seasons in the conference, while the Athenas have won six SCIAC titles in a row, and were undefeated in five of those seasons.
The men finished finished No. 2 in the nation last year after falling to Emory University in the NCAA Division III national championship, and there’s no doubt the loss is still in the back of team members’ minds.
“Being that close to winning the championship, it stung, so as a team I️ think we will be playing with a chip on our shoulder and more motivated this season,” top singles player Nikolai Parodi CM ’20 said.
Though the Stags graduated some key seniors, expectations are high this spring.
“Our ultimate goal is to win the team championship,” Parodi said.
A preseason poll released by ITA Tennis kept the Stags at No.2 nationally to start the season.
Athletes like Julian Gordy CM ’19, Daniel Park CM ’20, and Parodi were key players in last year’s campaign, and highlight a roster complete with veteran experience. The addition of Jack Katzmann CM ’21 and Casey Morris CM ’21, as well as transfer student Oscar Burney CM ’20, only pad the depth of this talented roster.
The past season’s near national victory may haunt the program, but the team is excited for the matches on tap this year. Before they head into conference play, the Stags will face off in a rematch of last year’s national semifinals against Middlebury College, and will also play prestigious programs like Tufts University, Amherst College, and Williams College.
“I am most excited for Middlebury and Pomona because those are our two biggest rivals and they are some of the most intense matches we had last year,” Parodi said.
The Athenas were also stunningly successful last year, trampling through the SCIAC with an undefeated record en route to a national semifinal berth. CMS lost to the Emory Eagles in the semis, finishing with a No. 3 national ranking.
Returning six of their seven national semifinal competitors, the Athenas believe they can continue to build on last season. Led by two expert seniors, Lindsay Brown CM ’18 and Kyla Scott HM ’18, the team is supported by a strong sophomore class that features some of their top singles and doubles players.
“I believe that we have an abundance of talent and a team of extremely hard workers, and there is huge potential to go even farther,” Catherine Allen CM ’20 said.
The Athenas’ schedule this season is tough — in the span of two weeks, they’ll face five of the current top seven programs in the country. The other team in the top seven is Pomona-Pitzer, which plays CMS April 12.
“It’s fun to compete against rivals and test your abilities,” Allen said. “After being defeated by Emory last year in the semifinals, I think it’s beneficial for us to play them in the regular season to get more practice,” Allen said.
At the end of the season, the CMS tennis programs will host the NCAA national championship.
“We are extremely excited to be hosting the national championship this year,” Parodi said. “Last year we didn’t lose a match at home. While other teams will have to adjust to our courts, we won’t,” Parodi said.