The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps women’s tennis team is gearing up for a 2019 season that it hopes closely mirrors last year’s, which ended with the Athenas as the NCAA champions for the first time in program history.
Last May, the Athenas fought their way to the title on their own home courts at the Biszantz Family Tennis Center. After a three hour and 40 minute nail-biting match against the seven-time national champion Emory University Eagles, the Athenas came out on top with a 5-4 win.
The Athenas already had a promising fall season, with Catherine Allen SC ’20 and Caroline Cox CM ’21 winning the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s National Doubles Championship in October. In addition, the ITA announced Jan. 17 that CMS had earned the No. 1 spot in the Division III preseason poll.
“Our mindset is that it is a brand new year, but that we are capable of another strong season,” Allen said. “We can definitely use the lessons we learned that helped us win last year, but the work needs to be put in. We have a long way to go.”
The team is adjusting to the loss of two key members, Kyla Scott HM ’18 and Lindsay Brown CM ’18, who both played doubles and graduated last spring. However, CMS has welcomed four new faces to the program: Sydney Lee CM ’22, Sarah Bahsoun CM ’22, Crystal Juan SC ’22 and Georgia Tuckerman CM ’22.
“We definitely lost two great leaders and fierce competitors,” Cox said, “but the freshmen have been working really hard and have brought an exciting new energy to the team.”
Allen agreed, noting that the first years are incorporating “their own skills and weapons that are fitting in quite well.”
As for their aspirations for the rest of the season, Cox said that “defending our title is of course the unspoken goal.”
If the Athenas want a repeat, they’ll need to go through Emory and Williams College, who are respectively ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the NCAA. The Athenas defeated Williams in the NCAA semifinals before taking down Emory in 2018.
After last year’s win, CMS learned that working together is vital, especially in the face of tough opponents.
“We need everyone to contribute and play their role and all that is understood by every member on the team. That mutual feeling is unifying,” Cox said.
The Athenas have secured wins over Idaho State, Caltech, Occidental College and UC San Diego so far this spring. They will play against Brandeis University at home Feb. 23.