Williams wins fifth consecutive title
Ephs take final three singles matches to hold off Chicago
CARY, N.C. -- Williams became the first Division III team to win five consecutive NCAA national championships on Wednesday when it defeated Chicago 5-2 at the Cary Tennis Center.
Eph seniors Kristin Alotta, Caroline Capute and Taylor French end their careers with four national titles in four seasons. Williams is now 7-2 all-time in national championship matches and is the first school to win seven national titles in women's tennis.
The Ephs improved to 24-2 with the victory. The Maroons completed their season at 23-5.
Williams held a 2-1 lead against Chicago after doubles play. Alotta and Kathleen Elkins were the first to finish when they extended a 4-3 lead to 7-4, dropped a game and finished with an 8-5 victory at second doubles.
Capute and Rebecca Curran won a key point at third doubles in a tiebreaker. The duo trailed 6-7, but rallied for two wins and served for match point before seeing Maroon counterparts Kelsey McGillis and Megan Tang battle back to tie things 8-8. The Eph tandem jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the tiebreaker, saw it close to 4-3 and 5-4 before winning the last two points -- the final coming on a nice overhand smash at the net by Capute -- to win the breaker 7-4.
Chicago momentarily tied the match at 2-2 when Jennifer Kung defeated Kara Shoemaker in straight sets, 6-1, 6-3. But Alotta played brilliantly at first singles to recapture the lead for the Ephs. After dropping the first two games of the first set against Kendra Higgins, the Eph senior stormed back to take a 3-2 lead. It was 3-3 before Alotta won two quick games and eventually took the first set 6-4. It was all Alotta in the second set as she won the first three games and cruised to a 6-4, 6-2 victory.
Sophomore Elkins made it 4-2 Williams when she completed a 6-4, 6-1 win against Linden Li at four singles.It gave Elkins a team-leading 28 wins this season for Williams.
That left three matches on the courts with the Ephs needing one more victory for a fifth consecutive national title. Both Capute at five singles and first-year Maria Pylypiv at six had won their first sets while Nancy Worley at three had fallen 7-5.
Capute jumped out to a quick 2-1 lead in her second set while Pylypiv led 1-0 before falling behind 3-1. She trailed 4-2 and 5-4 before tying the match at five and then breaking McGillis for a 6-5 lead. Serving for the match, Pylypiv jumped out to a 30-0 lead before closing her 7-5, 7-5 win and the national championship for Williams.