Redlands next in women’s tennis quest for first ever three-peat at Nationals

Women’s tennis is moving on to the Redlands. With a decisive victory over league rival Tufts on Sunday, the women earned a berth in the Quarterfinal Round of the NCAA Div. III National Tournament. The Lady Ephs will be packing up and leaving for California on May 14, where the University of Redlands will be hosting the final rounds of the tournament.

Under Interim Head Coach Sarah Marks ’00, the squad will be defending back-to-back National Championships. Williams remains the only team to have accomplished this feat in the event’s 21-year history. In 2001, the Ephs defeated Trinity University (Texas) on their home courts in San Antonio to win their first title, and then became the first to net a repeat by knocking off Emory University at Sweet Briar College in Va. in May of 2002. Both national championships came under Head Coach Julie Greenwood ’96, who is currently on sabbatical at Stanford.

This past weekend, the Ephs were faced with three NESCAC opponents in their East Regional draw. Williams ousted Trinity for the second time this year by a score of 9-0. The Ephs had last defeated the Bantams 7-2 back in September. In the Williams victory, the Ephs saw all six singles matches end in victory in straight sets, as well as three dominating doubles matches.

Tufts made it past Middlebury in the first round by a score of 6-3, and the re-match from the previous weekend’s battle was set. Last weekend, the Ephs were looking for a little redemption for losses to the Jumbos earlier in the season, and Williams pulled off a stunning 5-4 victory in what was the closest match of the season.

In that match, Williams took all three doubles matches, but Tufts won four of the six singles matches and kept it close. The entire match came down to a gutsy performance by Alex Maclennan ’06, who came back from behind to win in three sets and seal the victory for her team.

Sunday’s match-up would prove to be just as competitive as it has been all season between the Jumbos and the Ephs. Williams again came out dominant in doubles play, and took all three matches.

“Doubles set the tone for the whole match once again,” Marks said. “That, and the fact that everyone came to the match ready to play. Everyone really stepped up and played tremendously.”

Tufts kept it tight by winning three singles matches, and only allowed Maclennan and Kate Troy ’04 of Williams to notch singles victories. However, that was all they needed. With those two wins, the Ephs did not even have to complete the number six singles match in which Brittany Binet ’05 had already gained a one set advantage.

“I think the score shows it was a hard fought match and it was a great experience for us to have to beat one of the best teams in the country twice in a row in one week. It will be great preparation for us for nationals,” Marks said. “We’re incredibly excited to be going and I think this team has earned everything they’ve gotten this year and taken nothing for granted. We’re excited for the opportunity, and hopefully we can go out there and prove ourselves to be one of the best teams.”

Amherst, the other host school for the East Regional Preliminary Rounds, won its draw and will be making the trip to the Quarterfinals at Redlands as well.

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