Section: Sports

Tennis teams win NCAC, advance to NCAA Tournament

Tennis teams win NCAC, advance to NCAA Tournament

The Ladies pose with their NCAC tournament trophy following their decisive win in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Women’s

This past weekend, the Ladies captured their third straight North Coast Athletic Conference Championship (NCAC) title with a 5-3 victory over rival Denison University at the Indianapolis Racquet Club. They have won their last six games and clinched an automatic berth to the Division III National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Tournament with their 18th divisional championship.

In the first round, Kenyon faced off against the No. 8 seed Allegheny College. The first-seeded Ladies continued their momentum from the regular season with a complete sweep of the Gators; collectively, Kenyon only dropped five sets in the entire matchup.

Following their promising victory, Kenyon met Oberlin College in the NCAC semifinals. The Ladies again dominated their opponent, going 5-0 against the Yeowomen.

In the first match of the finals against Denison’s Big Red, Kenyon’s 10-0 run was brought to a halt. Kenyon’s Erika Oku ’21 and Maggie Sweeney ’19 fell in a thrilling matchup against Emma Alsup and Lauren Hawley. The pairs are currently ranked as the top two doubles teams in the region.

The Ladies bounced back when Ilana Blackwood ’21 and Daria Beshentseva ’22 tied up the series 1-1 with an 8-4 victory. The last doubles matchup, featuring Kayla Pukys ’21 and Annie Reiner ’19, came down to a tiebreaker after the match reached 7-7. In the tiebreaker, Pukys and Reiner were able to secure the victory 7-1, pushing Kenyon to a 2-1 series lead.

Denison would then win two of the next three matches, tying the series 3-3. No. 1-ranked Oku launched the Ladies ahead as she handled Lauren Hawley 6-3 and 6-1. Reiner then dominated Ashley Hammons in 6-4 and 6-1 sets, clinching the divisional title in a 5-3 win over the Big Red.

Kenyon enters the Division III NCAA tournament ranked second in the central region behind the University of Chicago.

Men’s

Kenyon men’s tennis competed in the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) Tournament in Indianapolis, Ind. over the weekend, and won three consecutive matches to take the championship. The Lords’ lost just one game in all three matches combined.

The team began their title quest on Friday against the Wabash College Little Giants. It soon became clear that the Little Giants were no match for the top-seeded Lords. Kenyon won the first five games, clinching a victory in the fewest matches possible.

The Lords dominated their opponents in doubles play: Jacob Zalenski ’20 and Henry Wessel ’21 were the Lords’ top duo, winning 8-2. Anatol Doroskevic ’19 and Pascal Lee ’22 didn’t disappoint either, holding off Patrick McAuley and Jordan Greenwell in an 8-4 win.

On Saturday, the Lords continued their strong play in their matchup against Oberlin College, unfazed by the abrupt transition to an indoor facility due to rain. They didn’t drop a match, winning 5-0 even though the Yeomen put up a tougher fight than Wabash. Camron Cohen and Matthew Gittings forced Austin Diehl ’20 and Zalenski into a tiebreaker before falling 7-5 to the Kenyon duo in the extra frame. The other two doubles matches ended in 8-4 and 8-5 wins.

With a win on Sunday against Denison University in the final, the Lords sealed their 13th consecutive NCAC conference championship. Kenyon’s record improved to an outstanding 18-3 on the season.

No. 25-ranked Denison failed to keep up in the singles category, but won the third match, ending a long doubles win streak for the Lords. Both Lee and Bryan Yoshino ’21 earned singles wins.

Coach Scott Thielke is impressed with his players’ ability to continue the NCAC winning streak. “The members of this year’s team were in elementary school or younger the last time we didn’t win the title,” he said. “So tradition, hard work and the ability to play under that pressure is what makes me proud of the whole team and its seniors.”

A conference championship win booked Kenyon’s 18th straight Division III National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Tournament berth. The No. 11-ranked Lords will compete for a Division III national title in the coming weeks.

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