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James Hill | | May 20, 2014

Hill: JHU does enough to survive and advance

CLAREMONT, Calif. -- The Johns Hopkins Blue Jays earned their first semifinals berth in NCAA Division III Women's Tennis Championship by winning a doozie of a quarterfinals match Monday night at the Biszantz Family Tennis Center.

Johns Hopkins (24-1) edged the host Claremont-M-S Athenas 5-4, with the match decided at No. 6 singles. The Athenas completed their season with a 21-8 record.

"It was a little too exciting," said Blue Jays coach Dave Woodring, with a bit of a smile. "The girls fought hard and we came out strong in doubles. It's really exciting for us to get to the next round."

Hopkins will take on the top-ranked Emory Eagles in Tuesday's semifinals. Emory (26-2), last year's national runner-up to Williams, defeated the Washington (Mo.) Bears 5-1 in the quarters.  .

The Blue Jays began the match by winning all three doubles positions. Sarah Kukino of CMS won No. 5 singles, but Johns Hopkins Sydney Lehman gave the Blue Jays a 4-1 lead by taking No. 2 singles.

Then, the excitement began.

The Athenas closed the match to 4-all, as Chloe Dobbert won No. 3 singles in a three-setter. The last match on the court was No. 6 singles, between Jody Law of Johns Hopkins and Yvonne Likomanova of CMS. Law, a freshman who was substituted in the lineup before the matches began, prevailed 7-5, 6-7, 6-4 to close it out.

CMS coach Gretchen Rush was pleased with the effort of her players in the thriller.

"I feel like we ran out of time," Rush said. "I thought we were going to win, I'm really proud of the way they fought."

Rush will join the Trinity (Texas) coaching staff next month as the new coach of the Tigers women's tennis team. It is a homecoming for Rush, who was a four-time All-American for the Tigers from 1983-86 during Trinity's Division I era. Rush also captured the 1983 NCAA doubles championship with Louise Allen,  and went on to become a top-20 pro singles and doubles player.

In other action, the defending champ Williams Ephs shut out the Bowdoin Polar Bears 5-0. Williams (22-2) has won the past six national titles, and tied an all-divisions women's record set by Stanford. Bowdoin completed the season with a 16-7 record. The Ephs will meet Amherst (21-3), which defeated Carnegie Mellon (19-5) by a score of 5-1. Amherst won third place last year with a 5-0 shutout of CMS.

The women's semifinals will begin at 6 p.m. ET. The third-place match and championship matchups are scheduled for Wednesday.

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