After its first conference loss to Pomona-Pitzer (14-2, 4-0 SCIAC) on Friday, Apr. 1, the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps women’s tennis team (12-4, 3-1 SCIAC) emerged victorious the next day against the Middlebury University Panthers (5-2, 3-0 NESCAC), giving the team momentum as it nears the end of its season.
P-P and CMS, currently ranked first and third in conference respectively, battled head-to-head throughout the competition. Though CMS captains Katie Kuosman CM '17 and Caroline Ward CM '16 fell short in the opening doubles match (5-8), the No. 2 and No. 3 doubles teams came out strong and rallied to give the Athenas two wins. Undeterred, Kuosman went on to beat Joy Kim PO '19 (5-4), and Jessie Cruz CM '19 brought the Athenas two points with victories in her doubles and singles matches. Going into the final singles match 4-4, Bria Smith CM '18 gave a valiant effort but ultimately lost to Lea Lynn Yen PO '16 in a two-set match (2-6, 2-6).
Kuosman noted that despite the close loss, the team looks forward to playing the Sagehens in what Kuosman anticipates to be an exciting post-season SCIAC tournament.
“Our hope is that we’ll get another chance to play them [P-P] in SCIACs, and hopefully again for Regionals in qualifying for Nationals,” Kuosman said. “It was a really hard fight. We’re obviously very close in terms of distance, have a lot of respect for their team, and know a lot of their team members off the court as well, so it’s always a fun rivalry. It’s very unique to have kind of our biggest rival so close, but it’s always a lot of fun, too.”
The Athenas came out strong against Middlebury on Saturday, dominating the singles matches and beating the Panthers 6-3. Kuosman led the team with an 8-2 doubles win with Ward and a three-set match win (5-7, 6-3, 6-3) over Alexandra Fields. For the second day in a row, Cruz also pulled through with two points for the team. Fighting through a tough two-set No. 4 singles match, Kyla Scott HM '18 clinched the match for the Athenas (7-6, 6-4).
Kuosman highlighted the team’s ability to turn the team’s luck around from the previous day’s match against P-P.
“We were very lucky and had an awesome showing,” Kuosman said. “We were really able to take care of business in singles.”
With only four conference matches left in the season, No. 3 CMS will next face the No. 2 University of Redlands (12-5, SCIAC 4-0) at 3 p.m. on Friday, April 8. The Athenas look forward to the high levels of competition in the next few matches and in the post-season tournaments.
“We’ve had a long season already and played a lot of the top teams in the country, so it’s really nice that we have some tough competition in SCIAC as well,” Kuosman said. “In the past, [Redlands] have been really strong, and I think this year they’ll be much the same. The match is at home, so it’s always nice to play a match at our home courts.”
According to Kuosman, the team hopes to maintain a positive and supportive outlook as it closes out the season.
“Our mindset is to just find a way to keep enjoying [the season] because it is a bit of a long season, so continuing to enjoy practices, spending time with the team, and just making sure we come out ready to play every match,” said Kuosman.