Williams is eighty points closer to winning the Sears Cup, thanks to the women’s tennis team’s second place finish at the National Tournament this past week. Williams has qualified for the NCAA tournament every year since NESCAC first allowed teams to participate in NCAA competition in 1994. That first year they also took second place. However, not since 1994 has Williams made it to the finals again.
Williams entered the tournament as an unseeded wild card qualifier. Earlier in the season, they struggled just to secure their spot in the tournament.
The NCAA admits the top two teams from each region into the tournament and then hands out six wild card spots. Williams secured one of the fourteen spots in the tournament after beating Skidmore and Wellesley in April.
Coach Julie Greenwood took her team of six players to Trenton, New Jersey on Monday for the opening round of the four-day team tournament. Williams drew unseeded Luther College for their first round match on Tuesday, a team they lost to a year ago. The number one doubles team of Jasmine Bradley ’02 and Selma Kikic ’02 fell to a tough Luther doubles team 8-4. Williams’ number two doubles team of Lindsay Morehouse ’00 and Daphne King ’99 also lost 8-3. However, the number three doubles team of Brooke Gibson ’01 and Alison Swain ’01 triumphed over Luther 8-3 to keep Williams in the match. The team then went on to win all six singles matches to beat Luther 7-2 overall.
With the win over Luther College, Williams advanced to the quarterfinal round, where they faced number two seed Gustavus Adolphus.
The sun broke through the clouds and drizzle of the past few days, and everything was going well for the Williams women. Bradley and Kikic took their doubles match over Gustavus Adolphus 8-5.
Morehouse and King fell to a tough Gusty team 8-4. But Gibson and Swain trounced the Gustys’ number three team 8-3 to secure a 2-1 lead over Gustavus Adolphus heading into the singles. Bradley, Gibson, and King all won their singles to secure a 5-4 victory over Gustavus and oust them from the tournament. The Williams women advanced to the final four.
On Thursday, Williams faced returning NCAA champions Skidmore College. Using the momentum from their win the day before, Williams breezed through to a 7-2 victory winning number one and two doubles. In singles, Bradley, Kikic, Gibson, Morehouse and King all prevailed over Skidmore.
The Williams team was in the finals. They were set to face Amherst College, who beat number one seed Trinity University of Texas in their semi-final match. The Williams-Amherst rivalry was at its best. The two teams would battle for the Division III national championship.
The Williams team fought hard against Amherst on Friday. Gibson and Swain won their doubles match with a decisive 8-4 victory. Morehouse and King battled fiercely but fell 9-8 in a close tiebreaker. Kikic and Bradley also lost their doubles match 8-5. In singles Kikic won her match in record time, 6-0 6-1. But the Amherst team prevailed to win 5-2 overall. Swain and King’s matches were retired after Amherst won the deciding fifth match.
After the tournament, captain King commented, “I am so proud of our team. We really played up to our potential with incredible energy and enthusiasm. Our performance was nothing less than spectacular. My teammates have made this a very memorable last season for me.”
Bradley and Kikic had previously been at the College of New Jersey competing in the NCAA individual tennis championships.
In addition to qualifying for the singles tournament, Bradley received the ITA Eastern Region Rookie of the Year Award. Bradley and Kikic are seeded third for the doubles tournament, giving them All-American status. Williams now has four All-American players on the team: Bradley, Kikic, Morehouse and King. Playing in the singles tournament, Bradley lost in the quarterfinals after beating the second seed. The doubles team of Bradley and Kikic lost in the second round to MIT in the tiebreaker of the third set.
Morehouse summed up the spring season, “Looking back on the season, it is hard to believe we made it this far. Our victory over Skidmore in early April was a big turning point for all of us. I think after that our team came together and we truly believed we could go all the way.” Teammate Gibson added, “Looking back to March, it is unbelievable how much this team has grown. We have all improved as individual players, but more importantly, we have truly become a team. I feel lucky to be a part of this championship and this group of six girls.”