CARY, N.C. — The Williams College women's tennis team became the first Div. III team to win 5 consecutive NCAA national championships Wednesday when it defeated the University of Chicago, 5-2, at the Cary Tennis Center.
Eph seniors Kristin Alotta, Caroline Capute and Taylor French end their careers with four national titles in four seasons. Williams is now 7-2 all-time in national championship matches and is the first school to win seven national titles in women's tennis.
"I'm a little in disbelief," Eph head coach Allison Swain said. "Every day of the tournament they came out and played better tennis. I know we've broken some records, but to me this is special because each group wins it in its own way."
The Ephs improved to 24-2 with the victory. The Maroons completed their season at 23-5.
"It's absolutely amazing," Alotta said. "It's just a testament to our whole team, and I couldn't ask for a better way to end my career. I think it comes down to our team chemistry and the fact we've been able to maintain it. Everybody on this team fights so hard."
Williams held a 2-1 lead over Chicago after doubles play. Alotta and Kathleen Elkins were the first to finish when they extended a 4-3 lead to 7-4, dropped a game and finished with an 8-5 victory at second doubles. It was the first loss of the season for the Maroon tandem of Jennifer Kung and Linden Li.
Capute and Rebecca Curran won a key point at third doubles in a tiebreaker. The duo trailed 6-7, but rallied for two wins and served for match point before seeing Maroon counterparts Kelsey McGillis and Megan Tang battle back to tie things 8-8. The Eph tandem jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the tiebreaker, saw it close to 4-3 and 5-4 before winning the last two points — the final coming on a nice overhand smash at the net by Capute — to win the breaker 7-4.
"Chicago had been playing very good doubles all season, they had two undefeated teams coming into today," Swain said. "So to come out of doubles up 2-1 was very, very big for us."
Chicago momentarily tied the match at 2-2 when Jennifer Kung defeated Kara Shoemaker in straight sets, 6-1, 6-3. But Alotta played brilliantly at first singles to recapture the lead for the Ephs. After dropping the first two games of the first set against Kendra Higgins, the Eph senior stormed back to take a 3-2 lead. It was 3-3 before Alotta won two quick games and eventually took the first set 6-4. It was all Alotta in the second set as she won the first three games and cruised to a 6-4, 6-2 victory.
"Kendra came out firing today, but I was able to dig in and get it to 3-2 in the first set and from there play really good tennis," Alotta said. "She's such an excellent player, I had never beaten her before, so today was a good day to accomplish that."
Sophomore Elkins made it 4-2 Williams when she completed a 6-4, 6-1 win over Linden Li at four singles. It gave Elkins a team-leading 28 wins this season for Williams.
That left three matches on the courts with the Ephs needing one more victory for a fifth straight national title. Both Capute at five singles and first-year Maria Pylypiv at six had won their first sets while Nancy Worley at three had fallen 7-5.
Capute jumped out to a quick 2-1 lead in her second set while Pylypiv led 1-0 before falling behind 3-1. She trailed 4-2 and 5-4 before tying the match at five and then breaking McGillis for a 6-5 lead. Serving for the match, Pylypiv jumped out to a 30-0 lead before closing her 7-5, 7-5 win and the national championship for Williams.
"Maria got pushed today more than she's been pushed all spring," Swain said. "And she responded well. For a freshman to be in that position, with the match on the line, coming from behind, with weather arriving any moment, to finish it off the way she did was great."
NOTES: Swain improved to 25-0 in NCAA play as coach of the Ephs. Her 25 NCAA Tournament wins are the most for a women's coach at Williams. Last year in the NCAA semifinals the Ephs downed Chicago 5-0 and in 2010 the Ephs edged the Maroons 5-4 when Worley won a three-setter at number 5 singles.
Three times in her career Worley has won the decisive fifth point in NCAA matches that have ended 5-4, including last year's dramatic comeback win over Laua Danzing of Amherst in the NCAA title tilt.
Williams College 5, University of Chicago 2
1. Kristin Alotta (WILW) def. Kendra Higgins (UCW) 6-4, 6-2
2. Jennifer Kung (UCW) def. Kara Shoemaker (WILW) 6-1, 6-3
3. Nancy Worley (WILW) vs. Carmen VacaGuzman (UCW) 5-7, 3-0, unfinished
4. Kathleen Elkins (WILW) def. Linden Li (UCW) 6-4, 6-1
5. Caroline Capute (WILW) vs. Megan Tang (UCW) 6-4, 3-5, unfinished
6. Maria Pylpiv (WILW) def. Kelsey McGillis (UCW) 7-5, 7-5
1. Kendra Higgins/Carmen VacaGuzman (UCW) def. Taylor French/Kara Shoemaker (WILW) 8-5
2. Kristin Alotta/Kathleen Elkins (WILW) def. Jennifer Kung/Linden Li (UCW) 8-5
3. Caroline Capute/Rebecca Curran (WILW) def. Kelsey McGillis/Megan Tang (UCW) 9-8 (7-4)
Order of finish: Doubles (2,3,1); Singles ()
NCAA Women's Tennis Championship Match