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Ephs top Emory, 5-3, advance to national title match

CARY, N.C. — The Williams College women's tennis team will get a chance to win their fifth consecutive NCAA Div. III championship after putting away a gritty Emory University team Tuesday in the nationals semifinals, 5-3.

The Ephs (23-2) will face the University of Chicago (23-4) in the championship match Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. It is the just the second time any team has played in five straight women's title matches. The Maroons ousted Amherst in the other semifinal Tuesday.

"It's an amazing accomplishment, I don't even think our girls understand what an accomplishment it is to be in five national finals matches in a row," Williams head coach Alison Swain said. "It will be fun to play Chicago tomorrow, we haven't seem them yet this year and they are playing extremely well."

Unlike their previous nine consecutive NCAA matches, the Ephs did not sweep all three doubles points against Emory, but they did emerge with a 2-1 lead thanks to a gutty 8-6 win at one doubles by Taylor French and Kara Shoemaker, who at one point trailed 4-2.

"I thought that win at first doubles was huge," Swain said. "Taylor and Kara had lost to that same pair over spring break, 8-5, so it was great to see them earn that victory."

The other Ephs' duo to post a win was Caroline Capute and Rebecca Curran, who breezed to an 8-1 win at three doubles. Kristin Alotta and Kathleen Elkins fell at second doubles, 8-5.

That left the Ephs needing three singles victories to advance to a fifth straight NCAA Div. III final. Once again, first-year Maria Pylypiv registered the first singles victory, sweeping Lauren Pinsky, 6-0, 6-1. Emory's Gabby Clark defeated Alotta at first singles, 6-3, 6-1 to make the team score 3-2, but Kathleen Elkins made it 4-2 when she finished off Malavika Padmanabhan at four singles, 6-2, 6-1. 

It was 4-3 Williams with both Caroline Capute at five singles and Kara Shoemaker at two singles leading their respective second sets after first set victories. Capute ended the Eagles title quest by completing a 6-4, 6-3 sweep of Brenna Kelly at five.

"I really thought everyone stepped up their games today from yesterday, and that's what it takes at this time of year and at this stage of the game," Swain said.

Tomorrow will be the ninth time in 19 years a Williams women's tennis team has played for a national title. The Ephs are 6-2 in the previous eight national title match appearances. Head coach Allison Swain is now tied with Julie Greenwood for the most NCAA coaching wins at Williams with 24 (Swain is 24-0).

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