The Pomona-Pitzer women’s tennis team hopes to continue its long streak of winning seasons this winter. As always, the heated rivalry between the Sagehens and the neighboring Athenas should provide plenty of drama as both teams enter their respective seasons with high NCAA DIII rankings.
The Sagehens ended their last season with much to feel pleased about both on and off the court. Overall, P-P put up a 16-7 season with numerous victories over nationally ranked teams. Unable to beat ninth-ranked Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, the Sagehens finished the season in second place in SCIAC. After the Athenas demolished P-P 9-0 during the regular season, the postseason featured excellent play from both teams. In the conference championship game, CMS barely pulled through a 5-4 victory in a match that certainly could have gone for either team. Winning two of the three doubles matches, the Sagehens entered singles play up 3-1 following an Athena retirement at number three. Facing their largest conference deficit of the season, CMS never looked back and rattled off wins at numbers one, four, five and six to clinch the match.
The Sagehens capped off the season by being honored with the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) National Sportsmanship Award for the month of May. P-P was one of two teams across all three NCAA divisions to receive the award. Such recognition was a reminder of the Sagehens' continued attempt to value sportsmanship just as much as winning.
In 2013, the Sagehens will have to battle without a few of their best players who graduated in the spring. Primarily, the Sagehens will need to replace the doubles team of Nicole Holstead PO ‘12 and Emily Kawahara PZ ‘12, both of whom provided P-P with a reliable force at number-three doubles. Finishing out the year with eight straight doubles wins against Division III opponents, Holstead and Kawahara were able to accrue a 17-7 record last season on their way to winning all three of their matches in the NCAA tournament.
Luckily, the Sagehens will return their top five singles players from 2012. With so much young talent, there is no reason for the Sagehens not to match, or even top, their strong performance in 2012. Likely playing either number-one or number-two singles this season, Sammy Chao PO ’14 will be integral to the success of the Sagehens. Playing number-two singles in 2012, Chao had a stellar year. As an All-SCIAC selection, Chao went undefeated in singles against Division III opponents, accumulating an overall 15-1 record in the process. Her only loss of the season came against Division II California State University, Los Angeles. It will be difficult for Chao to repeat the magical performance she had last season considering the elevated level of competition she could face at number-one singles. Her consistency will be crucial for the Sagehens this season.
Marie Fleming PZ ‘16 and Lea Lynn Yen PO ‘16 are among the six new additions to the Sagehen tennis team. Fleming, a three-sport varsity standout from Brookline High School in Roslindale, Mass., had an extremely successful high school career that she wishes to replicate for the Sagehens. Playing first singles until her senior year, Fleming lost only five times out of the more than 60 matches that she played. Such success has led her to be a three-star recruit and the 326th-best recruit in the nation for her class.
Yen produced a similar level of success throughout her high school years. As MVP of her tennis team at Sunny Hill High School for four consecutive years, Yen was a league singles finalist and reached the round of 16 in the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Doubles Championships. Also a three-star recruit, Yen is ranked as the 234th-best player in the nation for her class.
“We have six new freshmen, and that is very exciting,” said Head Coach Ann Lebedeff. “I hope to see the youth and experienced players combine their talents for a very successful and fun season on and off the court.”
With a tough schedule and, of course, numerous matches against number-nine ranked CMS, it should be interesting to see if the 14th-ranked Sagehens can live up to their lofty ranking. P-P begins its season Feb. 22 at the University of La Verne.