May 10, 2009

*Courtesy of Denison Athletics

Greenville, Ohio - For the third straight year and the fifth time out of the last six seasons, the Denison Big Red women's tennis team has advanced to the NCAA Quarterfinals following a 5-1 victory over 11th ranked Mary Washington on Sunday from the Denison University Tennis Courts. DU will square off against second-ranked Williams in the Elite 8 on May 19 in Lawrenceville, Ga.

After falling 8-3 in No. 3 doubles to fall into an early 1-0 hole the Big Red needed a big boost from first and second doubles flights. The team of Marta Drane (Wilmington, Del./Tower Hill) and Kristin Cobb (Dayton, Ohio/Oakwood) battled back from a 2-1 deficit to win three straight points and take a 4-2 advantage. After Mary Washington's Becky Morse-Karzen and Kate Malpeli trimmed the deficit to 4-3, Drane and Cobb rattled off another three consecutive points to increase their lead to 7-3. The Denison duo closed out the match by breaking the Eagles serve en route to an 8-4 win that tied the match score at 1-1.

There was a stiff battle at second doubles between DU's senior tandem of Meghan Damico (Pittsburgh, Pa./Fox Chapel) and Kendra Murray (Kirkwood, Mo./Kirkwood) and the Mary Washington team of Courtney Goimarac and Katie Schafer. The Big Red won the first three points to take the early 3-0 lead. With the score in favor of the Big Red, 5-2, the Eagles would captured five of the next six points to take a 7-6 lead on the senior co-captains.

In danger of going down 2-1, Damico and Murray broke their opponent's serve to knot the match at 7-all. Denison then won the ensuing point to take an 8-7 advantage. Sitting on the third deuce, Murray lined a shot that just stayed inside the line to give the Big Red the advantage. The seniors broke their second-consecutive serve after Mary Washington double faulted into the net. The victory gave DU a 2-1 lead heading into singles action.

Junior Kara Zdanowski (Ann Arbor, Mich./Pioneer) got the Big Red rolling in singles play with a convincing 6-1, 6-0 victory over Michelle Meadows at No. 6 singles. Zdanowski won 11 consecutive points in her straight-set win.

After their intense battle at No. 2 doubles, Damico and Murray returned in singles action to help close out the Denison victory. At the first flight, Damico was locked in another epic struggle with Mary Washington's Becky Morse-Karzen. After dropping the first two points, Damico was finally able to score to cut the margin to one. However, the Eagles' No. 1 rattled off back-to-back points to open up a three-point lead. The Pittsburgh, Pa. native responded by ripping off four-consecutive tallies to take her first lead of the set at 5-4. With the score at 5-5, both competitors broke each others' serve to force a tiebreaker situation. Damico capped off her impressive comeback with a 7-3 win in the tiebreaker to take a one set lead in the match. The senior found new life in the second set as she posted a dominating 6-2 win, giving Denison a 4-1 advantage.

Murray and Amy Sheetz also had a battle at No. 5 singles. Trailing 4-2, Murray dug down deep and won back-to-back points to tie the score at 4-4. After falling down 5-4, Murray won the final three points to earn a 7-5 victory in the opening set. After going down 2-1 in the second set, the Kirkwood, Mo. native rallied to take a 3-2 advantage. However, Sheetz responded with a point to tie the set at 3-3. Like she did in the previous set, Murray scored three-consecutive points to secure the straight-set victory and lock up the regional title for the Big Red.

Denison and their quarterfinal opponent, Williams College, have played once in 2009 with the Ephs coming away with a 5-2 victory on March 27 in Decatur, Ga. Williams, the defending NCAA Champion, is currently ranked second in the latest ITA/Division III Top-30 poll.