Athenas Rule the Court, Down Sagehens in Sixth Street Rivalry Game Rematch

In
its biggest conference test of the season, the fourth-ranked
Claremont-Mudd-Scripps women’s tennis team faced off against No. 9 Pomona-Pitzer (12-5, 7-1 SCIAC), defeating its Sixth Street
rival 6-3 April 10.

Although the Athenas (17-1, 6-0 SCIAC) ultimately took home the win, they went on the court expecting some
tough competition. 

“P-P
are extremely resilient and tough competitors,” Lauren Livingston CM ’18 said. “They
always fight to win, so we knew going in that this will not be an easy win. Before this match, there were a few match-ups that were up in the air whether
we or P-P would win.”

The Sagehens kept the Athenas on their toes, proud of the tenacious effort they brought to every
minute of each match.

“Our
team had incredible fight; I saw all of my teammates give 110 percent in both singles
and doubles matches,” Shivani Doraiswami PO ’18
said. “Our No. 1 singles player in particular fought so
hard, despite dealing with a severe shoulder injury, and it was
really inspiring to watch. I don’t even think CMS was expecting to be pushed so
far; they were definitely rattled.”

Battling
against fiery competition, the Athenas maintained their composure and focused
on coming out on top early in the day.

“The
biggest challenge of the match was not getting too nervous that we would not
play to our level,” Livingston said. “It was equally important for us to start
ahead, and I believe winning doubles 2-1 definitely gave us the confidence that
continued on to our singles matches.”

Caroline Ward CM ’16 and Katie Kuosman CM ’17 won the first doubles match 8-3 over Lea Lynn Yen PO ’16
and Grace Hruska PZ ’18 in No. 1 doubles, and the team of Sarah Kukino CM ’15 and
Kyla Scott HM ’18 followed that up with an 8-3 victory of their own.

In a back-and-forth No. 3 doubles match,
Mary Zhao PO ’18 and Maddie Gordon PO ’17 took an early 3-1 lead over
Lindsay Brown CM ’18 and Bria Smith CM ’18. The Athena duo managed to come back
after taking three straight games, but Zhao and Gordon clenched the final five
points and came away with the 8-4 win.

“Mary and
Maddie make a great combination,” Doraiswami said. “Since Maddie is left-handed
and Mary the opposite, they both play on their dominant sides. The two of
them are also solid tennis players at the baseline and the net, and their
combined strengths far outweigh any weaknesses they have. They have a
great understanding as a pair that helps them communicate well, which is so, so
important in doubles.”

In
singles, Ward defeated Yen 6-3, 6-3 in the No. 1 slot, echoed by a win from
Brown across the court in No. 4 over Hruska 6-2, 6-3 to give CMS a 4-1
advantage.

Sarah
Kukino CM ’15 secured the win for the Athenas with a 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 win in No. 3
singles.

“Kukino
is a really strong player mentally and physically,” Livingston said. “Over
this past year, she has played various matches against girls of all different
styles, and yet she remains a very stable opponent. In her P-P match she played
very well, and I think her consistency definitely frustrated her opponent. She also quickly adapted to her opponent’s ability to hit everything on the
rise.” 

With the
win, CMS extends a nearly perfect season under the guidance of new head
coach Dave Schwarz.

“If any one person or thing is responsible for
the team’s success this semester, it would be coach Schwarz,” Livingston said. “He
has been a very inspirational coach and [pushes] the team to work their best at
all practices and matches.  He is always encouraging our improvements and
corrects our mistakes.”

This
may not be the last time the Athenas see the Sagehens. The two teams have the
potential to face off again in May in the SCAIC Championships and NCAA Regionals.

“I would love to see CMS again in
the SCIAC championships because it gives us another opportunity to battle
it out,” Doraiswami said. “After seeing
how well we did the first time around, I think that … our team we will be ready to clinch the W.”

This coming weekend, CMS heads into
matches against Chapman University (8-9, 4-3 SCIAC) April 17 at 2:00 p.m. and
Occidental College (1-13, 0-7 SCIAC) at 5:30 p.m.

“Our team is really excited for any upcoming
matches,” Livingston said. “So far, we have been playing extraordinarily well
and have only lost to Emory [University], who is No. 1, in a close match. We enjoy
improving every day and playing challenging matches.”

The
Sagehens have an off-week until the Ojai Tournament April 23-26, for which they
remain optimistic.

“A
match is a match, and regardless of who we play, we always have to be positive,”
Doraiswami said. “Though we lost to CMS, and it would be easy to feel bummed
about it, every day is a new day, and our team is one that doesn’t let up when
the going gets hard.”

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