Women's Tennis Earns NCAA Bid, Gets First Round Bye

Women's Tennis Earns NCAA Bid, Gets First Round Bye

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Claremont, Calif. - The Pomona-Pitzer Women's Tennis team received an at-large bid to the NCAA Division III Championships and will receive an opening-round bye in its regional, it was announced today.

Pomona-Pitzer, which is ranked No. 10 in the nation and has a 14-6 record on the year, will open NCAA play on Saturday against the winner of Friday's opening-round match between Redlands and Whitman. The other half of the bracket features top-seeded and regional host Claremont-Mudd-Scripps against the winner of the opening-round match between Texas-Dallas and UC Santa Cruz.

The bid marks the eighth straight NCAA Tournament appearance for the Sagehens, who reached the NCAA semifinals in 2008 and the quarterfinals in 2009 and 2010 during that span. The last time Pomona-Pitzer did not qualify for the Division III championships was in 2005, when it had a rare offseason and finished 4-16. Overall, the program has made 22 NCAA appearances (including a national title in 1992) the third-highest total nationally behind only Emory (29) and Mary Washington (25).

The Sagehens secured the second seed this year by advancing to the SCIAC finals this past weekend, defeating No. 11 Redlands 7-2 in the semifinals in a match that likely had seeding implications. Pomona-Pitzer then fell to No. 2 CMS in the title match 7-2.

Pomona-Pitzer and CMS met in last year's regional finals, with the Athenas prevailing in a close one 5-3. Current senior Kara Wang (Saratoga, Calif.), badly cramping and serving underhand in the third set, fought off seven match points at No. 3 singles to get to a third-set tiebreaker before finally falling for the decisive point. The Sagehens advanced to the regional finals with a 5-0 win over Texas-Tyler and a 5-2 win over Trinity (Texas) prior to the CMS match.

This year, freshman Mae Coyiuto (Makati City, Philippines) and junior Arthi Padmanabhan (Saratoga, Calif.) have been the top performers for the Sagehens. Coyiuto has a 17-5 singles record this spring, playing in the No. 2 and No. 3 spots, and reached the semifinals of the Ojai Valley Tournament on April 26-28. Padmanabhan, meanwhile, is 15-4 overall playing at No. 4-6 and has won her last eight matches in a row, including a pair of 6-0, 6-0 wins in the SCIAC Tournament.

The Sagehens have a lineup that is a strong mix of experience and youth heading into the NCAA Championships, in addition to Wang and Padmanabhan, senior Jamie Solomon (Los Gatos, Calif.) has been at the top of the Pomona-Pitzer singles lineup for most of her four year career, while junior Sammy Chao (Hong Kong) has spent most of her three seasons in the No. 2 spot.

This year's recruiting class of Coyiuto, Marie Fleming (Boston, Mass.) and Lea Lynn Yen (Fullerton, Calif.) has also emerged as half of the singles line-up coming down the stretch of the season. Fleming has a 9-6 record, mostly playing in the No. 4 spot, while Yen began the year as a doubles specialist with Padmanabhan, but has become a key part of the singles line-up in the second half of the season, tallying a 9-3 mark at No. 5 and No. 6.

If Pomona-Pitzer were to face Redlands in the semifinals, it would mark their third meeting in the last four weeks, with the Sagehens winning 6-3 in the regular season finale to earn the No. 2 seed, and then winning 7-2 in the SCIAC semifinals. On the other hand, No. 17 Whitman would be an unfamiliar opponent, as the teams have not met this season, nor at any time over the last four years.

To view the complete NCAA Division III Women's Tennis Tournament field, go to the following link: