You Just Got Served: Athenas Earn 2 Victories, Extend Winning Streak to 8

Under the blistering sun, Caroline Ward CM ’16 and Katie
Kuosman CM ’17 aligned themselves in the corners of the court, never taking
their eyes off the ball. With one sharp stroke, Ward put the ball just out of
the reach of her opponent, winning the March 7 match against California
Lutheran University (3-4, 0-0 SCIAC).

“Caroline and I complement each
other well as partners,” Kuosman said. “We both prefer to play up at net and
end points quickly. Caroline is strong off both wings, finished extremely well
at net, and sets me up well with her sold, lefty serve.”

The rest of
the Athenas followed suit, resulting in a sweeping 9-0 win over Cal Lu. That
was just the start of a successful weekend for the fifth ranked
Claremont-Mudd-Scripps women’s tennis team (8-0, SCIAC), who would go on to
dominate eighth-ranked University of Washington at St. Louis (5-3) 8-1 on
Sunday.

“We all
felt pretty confident going in against Cal Lu so we just had to play our game
and do what we had to do,” Lindsay Brown CM ’18 said. “But we knew we had a lot
to work on since we were going to play a top-ten [Division III] team the next day.”

The Athenas stepped up to the
challenge, winning five out of six of their singles matches and coming out on
top of all three of their doubles.

 “I think that we started out against Wash U
with much greater energy and more of a sense of purpose than we have done in any
of our previous matches,” Kuosman said. “We knew Wash U would be a very tough
opponent and although we were confident about our chances to pull out a win, we
knew we had to bring our ‘A’ games.”

Amongst the successful duos, Brown
and Smith pulled out a of score of 8-4, a count identical to their doubles
matchup against Cal Lu the day before.

“The improvement was drastic from
our match against Cal Lu,” Brown said, “It was funny because our score was
exactly the same, but we played so much better on Sunday. We were making our
shots, we were less nervous and we just went for it because we had nothing to
lose.”

Ward took the
first court across from Wash U player Rebecca Ho in anticipation for an aggressive match.

Both
players delivered consistent, strong strokes, but Ho pulled ahead and clinched
the first set. Despite being down, Ward maintained her energy and remained
present in the game.

“Caroline thrives at number one,
she is just a fighter,” Brown said. “No matter what, she is positive on the
court. Even if she loses the first set she always comes back and you can always
depend on her to play her hardest.”

After numerous lengthy rallies, Ho ultimately
won the singles match. However, Ward managed to avenge the loss with a
victorious win alongside Kuosman for the second time in two days.

The Athenas stepped of the court on Sunday feeling accomplished after a successful
match against a vigorous opponent. 

“A lot of times I feel like we play
down to our opponent, but in this case we actually played up to them,” Brown
said. “The team was just in sync; it was definitively our best match so far.”

The Athenas began their 2014-2015
season with a seemingly brand new team. After seven seniors graduated last spring,
only four returning players took the court this past fall.

In addition to five new players,
the CMS team also received a new head coach, David Schwarz, who left the men’s
Division I tennis program at Brown University to come to Claremont.

“I wasn’t recruited by Coach
Schwarz; I was recruited by the coach from last year, so I was really nervous,”
Brown said. “A lot of times having a coach you don’t get along with can make or
break it, which leads to people quitting the team, but I don’t think it could
have gone better. He pushes us more than I thought we were going to be pushed
and we are going to be better than he ever expected.”

Despite the challenge of
integrating a large number of new players and a new coach into the CMS tennis
program, the Athenas have emerged as a cohesive and spirited team.

“The captains have shown a lot of
leadership because we are a very rambunctious group of freshmen,” Brown said.
“We all went into the season not knowing what we were getting into, but we are
all really happy with how it turned out.”

The Athenas take the court against Emory University (6-2) March 13 with the hopes of
bringing home their eight-match winning streak.  

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