The Pomona-Pitzer women’s tennis team, currently ranked 14th in the nation, concluded their regular season on a high note last Friday by upsetting ninth-ranked University of Redlands 6-3. With the win, the Hens improve to 7-1 in conference and head into the SCIAC tournament next week as the second seed behind Claremont-Mudd-Scripps. Friday also marked Senior Day, in which the team honored Jessica Hsu PO ’13, Jamie Solomon PZ ’13, and Kara Wang PO ’13.
Play began at the Pauley Tennis Complex on Friday with doubles. Wang and Sammy Chao PO ’14 started the Hens off with an 8-4 win at the number-one doubles spot over the top-ranked team in the West region, an important match not only for the team, but also for Wang and Chao’s individual NCAA Championship aspirations. At the second spot, Solomon and Marie Fleming PZ ’16 fell 8-1, but the Hens rebounded with a win at number three from Lea Lynn Yen PO ’16 and Arthi Padmanabhan PO ’14.
The Hens headed into singles ahead 2-1, and barely forty-five minutes later, Yen made it 3-1 by thoroughly demolishing her opponent 6-0, 6-0 at number five.
From there, only two more singles wins were needed, but all of the remaining five matches were close contests. Courts two, three, and four all split sets and started a third as Solomon and Padmanabhan won each of their first sets but struggled in their second sets at number one and and number six respectively.
With all five matches looking like they could go either way, Solomon gave the Hens a burst of momentum by coming from behind to win her match 6-4, 7-6(3). Minutes later, Padmanabhan finally closed out her second set for a 6-2, 6-4 win. These two matches brought the score to 5-1, securing the Sagehen victory. From there, Chao dominated the third set for a 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 win at number-three singles.
Redlands finished the match with two wins, as Fleming fell 6-0, 6-7(5), 6-4 at number four and Redlands’s number two player won a close match against Mae Coyiuto PO ’16 with a score of 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.
Before the match, the three seniors were recognized for their four-year contributions to the team.
Hsu, who has competed in singles and doubles for the last three years and has stepped in at number-three doubles and number-five and -six singles on several occasions this year, expressed her gratitude.
“Senior Day with the team was so much more than I could have ever asked for,” Hsu said. “I loved the flowers and signed picture frame from the team, but even more, I loved, as I always do, being on and off court surrounded by some of the people I care about most.”
Wang, who has been in the singles and doubles lineup all four years, is wrapping up a stellar career, highlighted by individual NCAA Championship bids and three All-American honors. Though she battled an injury the last two years that kept her out of many singles matches, she has been a key doubles contributor at the top spot.
“It was bittersweet, of course, but I couldn’t have asked for a better senior day. I’m so proud of all of us,” Wang said. “It was great seeing all the girls come out and really just compete the way I know we can.”
The feel-good story of Friday was seeing this season end the way it did for Solomon. A standout since her first year, Solomon has competed at the top spot the last three seasons, earning NCAA individual bids each year and All-American honors in singles as well as doubles with Wang. Last May, Solomon tore her ACL at the NCAA championship and was unable to pick up a racquet until December. She started the season playing at the number-three singles spot, and after a few matches, she worked her way back up to number one. On Friday, she proved herself to be back in full form with a huge win over Redlands’ top player, the fifth-ranked player regionally.
“I was so happy for our team to finish out the regular season with a win against a top team,” Solomon said. “For me, personally, I couldn’t think of a better way to go out for my last match on court one.”
Though last Friday marked the end of the regular season, the Hens are preparing for the SCIAC tournament on May 4. It will be played at P-P and CMS’s courts and at the Upland Tennis Club.