CLAREMONT, Calif. -- Third-ranked Emory defeated fourth-ranked Chicago 5-3 on Thursday to claim third place at the 2011 NCAA Division III Championships.

The top-three finish was the 11th in the history of the Emory women’s tennis program. It also marks the third consecutive season the team has finished among the top three teams in the NCAA.

Emory and Chicago split the first two doubles matches. No. 3 doubles finished first, where Emory’s pairing of Brenna Kelly and Malavika Padmanabhan defeated Aswini Krishnan and Jennifer Kung 8-3.  However, in second doubles, the Maroons would even the match as Carmen Vaca Guzman and Linden Li defeated the duo of Zahra Dawson and Jordan Wylie, 8-5.

The advantage coming out of doubles play would be decided in a thrilling match between Emory’s Gabrielle Clark and Lorne McManigle, and Chicago’s two-time reigning NCAA Division III doubles champion pairing of Kendra Higgins and Chrissy Hu.  The two squads would play to a tiebreaker set, but the Eagles would come out victorious in the tiebreaker, winning the match 9-8 and giving the team a 2-1 lead heading into the singles matches.

Chicago evened the match at two apiece after Hu claimed a victory against Lindsay Reidenbach, 6-1, 6-3, in the fifth singles match. But Wylie responded to give the Eagles the lead again, winning shortly thereafter at second singles, 6-2, 6-3 versus Kung.

Dawson would then put the Eagles a point away from clinching the match, winning 7-5, 6-2 at fourth singles over Li, giving the team a 4-2 lead.

Chicago edged closer with Vaca Guzman defeating McManigle 6-4, 6-4 at third singles. But, Clark would clinch the match with a three-set victory against Higgins at No. 1 singles, coming from behind to win 6-7, 6-2, 6-0.

Emory’s Laura Callava, playing in her final collegiate match, was also leading 7-5, 4-3 in the sixth singles match versus Krishnan when play was stopped after the team outcome was decided.

Emory finished the season with a record of 23-5, marking the second-highest win total in the history of the program.  The Eagles won 24 matches in both 2003 and 2004. Chicago ended the year with a record of 20-5.

The Eagles will now turn their attention towards the NCAA Division III Singles and Doubles Championships, which are slated to begin on Friday and run through Sunday. Scheduled to compete in the singles draw for Emory are Clark and Wylie, while Clark and McManigle will team up in the doubles draw.

Clark, who was named the tournament’s top seed when the brackets were released on Thursday, will open play against Sam Frank of Gustavus Adolphus College and face the winner of the first-round match between Bowdoin’s Kellen Alberstone and Natalia Agarycheva of Willamette, should she advance. Wylie will also begin play at noon, facing Nancy Worley of Williams. If Wylie advances, she will take on the winner of the match between second-seeded Kristin Lim of Claremont-Mudd-Scripps and Kathryn Schmidt of Carleton.

Meanwhile, Clark and McManigle received the third seed in the doubles draw, and will face Denison’s Kristin Cobb and Sarah Short at 7:00 PM ET on Friday in the first round.