April 22, 2010

By Alex Prewitt
Special to NCAA.com

UP FROM THE ASHES: Look out NESCAC, because here come the Maroons.

The University of Chicago, currently ranked No. 3 in the latest ITA top 25 poll, could vault to No. 2 in the country after a pair of top-10 wins last week which gave the Maroons their first UAA Championship in school history. Most recently, Chicago breezed through their first four singles matches in the final against No. 4 Emory, taking home a 5-3 victory along with the trophy at Case Western University.

Chicago's victory snapped a stranglehold that the Eagles had previously had on the conference tournament, as Emory had won 22 straight UAA titles. That is, until the Maroons had anything to say about it.

Chicago clinched the match when sophomores Aswini Krishnan and Carmen Vaca Guzman won, 8-6, at No. 3 doubles, but the Maroons arrived at that point via straight-set wins from its top four singles players. At No. 1 singles, sophomore Kendra Higgins, the fourth-ranked player in the nation, took down No. 17 Zahra Dawson, 6-4, 7-5, bringing her winning streak to 21. Most impressively, though, was at No. 2 singles, where sophomore Jennifer Kung beat the reigning NCAA Div. III singles champion, junior Lorne McManigle, 6-3, 6-4.

The victory was sweet revenge for Chicago, who lost the ITA Team Indoor title to the Eagles, just a few months after dropping the third-place match at the NCAA Championships to its conference foe.

UAA ROUND-UP: The University of Rochester scored perhaps the biggest upset of the week, knocking off No. 14 Washington University in the first round of the UAA Tournament, 5-4. The Yellow Jackets got wins at No. 1 through No. 3 singles, including a 6-4, 6-1 victory at No. 2 from freshman Frances Tseng.

Lia Weiner, the defending ITA Regionals singles champion and, along with Tseng, the doubles runner-up, won at No. 1 singles, rebounding after dropping the first set to take the closely contested match, 4-6, 7-6(9-7), 6-1. Sophomore Alex Goodman, additionally, lost the first set, 6-3, but came back to take the final two, 6-3, 6-4. The Bears' wins came via dominating performances, as their No. 3 doubles team won 8-0 and each of their two singles wins came in straight sets.

In the third-place game, the Yellow Jackets ran out of steam, losing to No. 10 Carnegie Mellon, 6-0. The Tartans made it there after being shutout by Chicago, 6-0, the day before and a 5-0 win versus Brandeis on April 16.

Emory, before it's record-setting loss to Chicago in the finals, had a relatively easy time getting past Rochester in the second round and NYU in the first, winning both by shutout margins.

THE LORDS OF REBOUND: After Amherst lost its first dual match of the season to No. 2 Williams, it rebounded in kind, sweeping doubles play at home on Tuesday against No. 17 Tufts. Two of the Jumbos' tri-captains, junior Julia Browne and senior Meghan McCooey, the two-time defending ITA National Champions, dropped their second straight No. 1 doubles match, falling to senior Brittany Berckes and sophomore Laura Danzig, 8-2.

The Lord Jeffs improved to 12-1 overall and 5-1 in the NESCAC with the win over Tufts, which included Danzig's straight-sets victory at No. 2 singles over McCooey and senior Jill Wexler's 6-1, 6-2 win at No. 4 singles.

The defending national runner-up have just Wesleyan and Middlebury left on its schedule before beginning the push for a sixth straight NESCAC championship when they host the conference tournament beginning on May 7.

WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS: No. 7 Pomona-Pitzer continued its run through the West region with a convincing 7-2 win against No. 20 Redlands. Four of the Sagehens' five singles wins came in straight sets, and none of those four individuals gave up any more than four games in a given set.

The victory gave Pomona-Pitzer the SCIAC Championship, which they won with relative ease. The Sagehens were 10-0 in conference play this year and rolled through the tournament via 5-0, 9-0 and 7-2 margins. Only a four-day Ojai Tournament in late April separates Pomona-Pitzer from the NCAA Tournament, where they will look to exceed the Elite Eight finish they garnered last season.

FAST ACES: In other top 25 action, No. 15 Middlebury beat No. 11 Bowdoin in NESCAC play, 6-3. The Polar Bears fell to 9-4 on the year thanks to the setback. The Panthers, meanwhile, became the first school all year to take two of three doubles matches from Williams but got swept in singles play to fall to the two-time defending champions, 7-2 … Once again, it was a banner week for nationally ranked teams, as no Div. III school inside the top 25, besides Wash U, was bounced by an unranked opponent.