Kenyon Ladies tennis won their second straight conference championship at the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) tournament this past weekend in Indianapolis, Ind. In addition to winning the NCAC championship, the team also earned an automatic bid to the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) tournament. The Ladies were the No. 1 seed in the conference and faced off against Allegheny College in the first round, DePauw University in the semifinals and Denison University in the championship.
The first game against Allegheny was a rematch of the last game of the season, when the Ladies won 9-0. Kenyon won this matchup 5-0. In the doubles competition, the Ladies got out to a quick 1-0 lead after Diana Aboubakare ’18 and Erika Oku ’22 dominated their opponents in straight sets, 8-0. The Ladies only lost one set the entire match. Grace Winslow ’18 and Annie Reiner ’19 won each of their singles matches by a score of 8-0 with Reiner sealing the victory in the last singles match.
The following day provided the only true challenge in the entire tournament for the Ladies as they won 5-3 against DePauw University. Kenyon was down 2-1 after the doubles matches as Aboubakare and Oku lost their first doubles match as a pairing this season. Maggie Sweeney ’19 and Grace Winslow ’18 evened up the score after they defeated their opponents 8-3.
Going into singles play, the Ladies had to play catch-up. Aboubakare and Oku bounced back immediately from their initial doubles loss by downing each of their singles opponents with ease. After the two victories, the Ladies needed two wins out of the final three singles matches to advance, and Ilana Blackwood ’22 and Winslow once again provided the spark when they each won their matches. Winslow had to go the full distance after a close second set where she lost 6-7. But she bounced back to blank her opponent in the final set 6-0 to advance the Ladies to the championship.
“The hardest part of the DePauw match was the weather conditions. We had not been practicing a lot outside and the wind made it a lot more difficult for us to play our normal game.” Reiner said.
The Ladies cruised to their second consecutive NCAC championship after defeating the Denison University Big Red 5-0. Sweeney and Winslow led off the day in doubles with a win after beating their opposition 8-3. Their performance was followed by Blackwood and Ceylan Can ’21 who also beat their opponents 8-3, and Aboubakare and Oku came in to give the Ladies a 3-0 lead going into singles play. Aboubakare beat out her opponent by scores of 6-1 and 7-5.
Reiner stole the show, however, and she celebrated on the court with her teammates after winning her last set 6-0. In addition, Reiner was also awarded the much-deserved NCAC Player of the week after her performances.
The Ladies are waiting to see who they will be playing in the NCAA tournament, but they will find out in the next few days. “We know that we are gonna be having much harder competition, so with this in mind we have to make sure we go out there really strong from the first point,” Reiner said.