Amherst, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, Williams favorites for DIII crown
KALAMAZOO, Mich. -- The top-ranked Division III women's tennis teams know who is lurking at No. 3.
Amherst enters next week's Division III Women's Tennis Championships at Kalamazoo College's Stowe Stadium ranked No. 1 while Claremont-Mudd-Scripps is No. 2, but also among the eight quarterfinalists that will begin play Monday morning is No. 3 Williams -- the five-time defending Division III national champion.
Amherst, which defeated Skidmore to qualify for the quarterfinals, is scheduled to open play Monday against Washington (Mo.), while CMS is scheduled to face last year's national runner-up Chicago. Williams is scheduled to play Johns Hopkins on CMS's side of the bracket, so a rematch of last year's championship match could be played Tuesday morning. Emory and Middlebury will clash with the winner to play Amherst or Washington on Tuesday morning.
“I think we are probably one of four favorites,” Amherst coach Jackie Bagwell said. “We just happened to come out on top of the rankings. I would definitely say that Williams and CMS and Emory would be the other three favorites, but all eight teams are really strong.”
Confidence and focus will be critical, Bagwell said, if her Jeffs are to end Williams' string of championships.
“We need to be confident, and we usually are, so that shouldn't be a problem,” Bagwell said. “They're under a lot of stress right now, though. They are taking finals and then they have to move out of their rooms and then pack for the trip to Kalamazoo. They have a lot going on.”
Claremont-Mudd-Scripps has qualified for the Division III quarterfinals under the direction of first-year head coach Gretchen Magers.
“This team has had a lot of ups and downs this season,” Magers said. “With a new coach there is always a lot of transition. I've made some mistakes and the girls have made some mistakes but they've adjusted to all of the different situations and we're 30-0, which is impressive at any level.”
CMS, which beat Williams earlier this season, is led by Senior Kristin Lim, a Honolulu resident who won the 2011 NCAA III singles championship.
“I wouldn't put anything past this group,” Magers said. “They are great athletes and I am very proud of them.”
Williams (20-4) is making its eighth consecutive quarterfinal appearance and became the first team to compile 60 Division III tournament victories. In 20 national tournament appearances, the Ephs are 60-13. Williams' quarterfinal opponent is 20-2 Johns Hopkins, which is riding a 16-match winning streak into the national quarterfinals.