Athena Tennis Fails to Outplace Seed at SCIACs

Last Friday and Saturday, the CMS Athenas competed in the SCIAC championships with hopes to end higher than their fifth-seed placement. After two close 5-4 losses to third and fourth seeds, Cal Lutheran and Occidental respectively, the Athenas’ dream came to an end.

Even though Pomona-Pitzer was the official host of the tournament, the Athenas played on their own courts and started hot versus first-round opponent Occidental. Alle Hsu SC ’11 and Caroline Daly SC ’12 cruised past the Occidental No. 3 doubles pair in dominating fashion with an 8-0 victory. Jessica Fox CM ’09 and Elisa La Cava CM ’09 won the Athenas another doubles point, with an 8-5 victory at the top spot, while Sara Reed CM ’12 and Hannah Kornfeld CM ’11 lost a close one to the Tigers, 8-5.

With two doubles points in hand, compared to one point when these two faced off just two weeks before, things looked promising for the Athenas. Additionally, the return of Kornfeld to the singles lineup, after an abdominal injury forced her out for over two weeks, boded well for the Athenas.

Then the meet took a turn when Meredith Leyendecker CM ’10 went down to her No. 6 singles opponent from Oxy, evening the match at two-all. La Cava at No. 1 singles avenged two losses earlier in the season, defeating her Oxy counterpart 7-5, 6-1, and Kornfeld returned to the lineup with a strong 6-3, 6-4 win at second singles for the Athenas. Fox was not as fortunate, falling 6-3 and 6-4 at third singles.

After taking the first sets in each of their matches, Hsu and Reed faltered in the second, putting the meet in jeopardy, as CMS needed one victory, while Oxy needed both. Although Hsu and Reed battled hard, the Oxy pair was too tough, first claiming the number five match against Reed, and then clinching the match at the number four spot, 7-5 in the third.

At this point, the Athenas had a short time to rest and rebound, ready to take some of their fury out on the Caltech Beavers. La Cava and Fox, Hsu and Daly, and Reed and Leyendecker were all in top form at one, two, and three, respectively, and the teams did not drop a single game in any match.

The singles matches told the same story, with La Cava, Fox, Hsu, Leyendecker, Blair Winston CM ‘10, and Stephanie Lee SC ‘12 all making quick work of their Beaver opponents. The Athenas then moved onto the finals of the consolation bracket of the SCIAC tournament, competing against La Verne for fifth place in the league.

Saturday’s match against the Leopards was more competitive than Caltech, but once again, the Athenas set the tone in the doubles, winning first doubles 8-3, second doubles 8-4, and third doubles 8-3.

In singles, CMS’s Reed was dominant, not dropping a single game in either set and posting her eighth and ninth 6-0 set wins of the season. At the top of the lineup, La Cava and Fox won quickly as well, giving the match and fifth place to the Athena squad. Winston and Daly also won at five and six, completing the second sweep in as many days for CMS.

Unfortunately just one singles match separated the Athenas on three different occasions between the third and fifth spots, but the future looks bright as the team will return eight of eleven players next year. The seniors will be missed, as co-captains Fox and La Cava depart after strong careers for the squad. The Athenas end their season at 12-9 overall and finish 5-5 in league play, good for fifth place in SCIAC.

Although the dual-match season is likely over for this team, there will be individual competition for all at the Ojai Valley Tennis Tournament, and then possibly a NCAA singles berth for La Cava if she performs well at the Ojai.

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