CLAREMONT, Calif. -- In an epic NCAA quarterfinals match that lasted nearly four and a half hours, Johns Hopkins beat host Claremont-M-S 5-4 on Monday afternoon. The Blue Jays improve to 24-1 on the season as they advance to the NCAA semifinals for the first time in program history. The Athenas end their season with a 21-8 record.
Hopkins got off to a strong start, sweeping the doubles to take a 3-0 lead. But CMS battled back, pulling even at four points apiece and setting the stage for an epic finale on court No. 6. Senior Hailey Hogan and sophomore Sydney Lehman were the first ones to take a point in the match as they beat Katie Kuosman and Caroline Ward 8-6 at first doubles. Freshmen Amanda Austi and Ashnaa Rao then beat Crystal Lim and Yvonne Likamonova, 8-4 at third. Junior Elaine Baik and freshman Mikey Barthelmass closed out doubles play and gave the Blue Jays what seemed like a commanding 3-0 lead with an 8-5 win against Chloe Dobbert and Sarah Kukino.Kukino started the comeback for the Athenas at fifth singles as she beat Baik 6-1, 6-0 to make it a 3-1 match. As it turned out, that would be the only match decided in straight sets. After dropping her first set in a close one, 7-5 at second, Lehman battled back to win in three sets. She lost just three games in the final two sets to beat Kuosman 5-7, 6-0, 6-3 and push the Blue Jays one point closer to the semifinals. But the Athenas had other ideas playing on their home court. Ward, who had lost her first set, came back to beat Austi 2-6, 6-1, 6-1 at first to make it a 4-2 match.
Lim followed with a hard-fought win at fourth against Hogan to pull CMS within one. Lim took the first set 6-3, but Hogan answered in the second with a 6-1 win to force a deciding set. Lim would battle back to win the third in a tiebreak, 7-6 (3), to take the set and the match. Dobbert then made it four-all with her win at third against Rao. Dobbert took the first set 6-4, but it was all Rao in the second 6-2. Dobbert would prevail in the final set, pulling out a 7-5 win.
With that, all the attention turned to court No. 6 where freshman Jody Law was battling Likamonova. Likamonova looked like she was going to win the match easily as she went up 5-0 in the first set. But Law got on the board in the sixth game and proceeded to win nine consecutive games. She won the first set 7-5 and was up 2-0 in the second before Likamonova rallied to win the second in a tiebreak, 7-6 (5). In a match that was nearing the four-hour mark and had four of the five singles matches decided in three sets, it was only appropriate that it all came down to a third set. Battling cramps and facing a 4-3 deficit in the final set, Law fought back to win the final three games and take the set 6-4 and the match.
Hopkins will now have a chance to avenge its only loss of the season as the Blue Jays take on the Emory Eagles in the NCAA semifinals. The match is slated for a 6 p.m. ET start at the Biszantz Family Tennis Center.