MASON, OH – In a clash of NCAA Division III women's tennis titans it was only fitting that it would take just under five hours to find a difference between the No. 1 ranked Ephs of Williams College and No. 2 ranked Eagles of Emory University.
Eph sophomore Linda Shin prevailed in three sets at number two singles to give Williams a 5-4 win over Emory and its seventh NCAA title in the last eight years under head coach Alison Swain '01.
Since 2001 when Williams won its first NCAA title Emory and Williams have combined to win 14 of the last 15 NCAA titles. Williams has won a Division III record nine titles, including a record six in a row, and in that time Emory won five. Only Washington & Lee in 2007 interrupted the run by the Eagles and the Ephs.
With the win today Alison Swain's Ephs completed the first undefeated two-semester season (25-0) in Williams' women's tennis history and extended the Ephs' overall win streak to 26.
Emory finished the season at 20-4 and both of the Eagles' Division III losses came at the hands of Williams and their other losses were to teams in Division I. The Ephs and Eagles played on March 28th on the campus of Washington & Lee University in 38-degree weather and recorded a 6-3 win. Today's match started with the temperature in the low 50's and ended in the low 60's.
The first match to deliver a result this afternoon came at three doubles, where the Eph tandem of Rebecca Curran and Maya Hart dropped the first game to Emory's Melissa Goodman and Rebecca Siegler. However, the Eph duo made short work of that 1-0 deficit by rattling off eight straight wins to post an 8-1 victory and give Williams a 1-0 lead.
Emory evened the match at one all with an 8-4 win at one doubles. The Eagles' Anna Fuhr and Michelle Satterfield fell behind the Eph freshman tandem of Mia Gancayco and Julia Cancio 1-0, but later took a 3-1 lead that the Ephs could not erase. Up 5-3 Emory took three of the last four games for the win.
And so it came down to two doubles to determine the team lead heading into singles play. The Eph pairing of Linda Shin and Juli Raventos trailed only briefly at 3-2, but did not trail again even though Emory's Bridget Harding and Katarina Su tied the match at four all and then narrowed the match to 7-6.
Serving for the match Linda Shin was dynamic as her first serve was returned wide and her second serve was returned right to Raventos who hit a quick backhand kill to put the Ephs up 30-love. Shin's third serve forced a wide return and her final serve got in on the backhand and was mishit wide to give the Ephs the match point and the 2-1 team lead.
The Eph lead went to 3-1 when Rebecca Curran defeated Melissa Goodman in straight sets at three singles, 6-0, 6-2. Curran finished off her intercollegiate career in style as the all-time leader at Williams in doubles victories with 110 (110-26) and a singles ledger of 89-27.
Emory got a point back to make the score 3-2 in favor of Williams when Bridget Harding topped the Ephs' Julia Cancio 6-4, 6-4 at five singles.
Sophomore Juli Raventos boosted the Eph lead back to two at 4-2, recording a straight-set win at one singles, downing Emory's Michelle Satterfield 6-3, 6-2.
With the score 4-2 Williams, the second singles match between Linda Shin and Beatrice Rosen of Emory was headed to a third set.
Mia Gancayco at four singles lost her first set to the Eagles' Katarina Su in a tiebreaker and came back in set two to generate a 4-2 lead but lost the set 6-4. The Eph lead was now down to one at 4-3.
Eph sophomore Hannah Atkinson forced a third set at six singles with a 6-3 win in the second set over Madison Gordon after Gordon opened the match with a 6-4 first set win. Atkinson was defeated 6-0 in the third set and that tied the match score at 4.
When Atkinson's match ended it all came down to the result in the Shin-Rosen match. Rosen won the first set despite Shin opening with a 4-0 lead. Rosen won six straight games in capturing the first set 6-4.
Shin bounced back in the second set beating Rosen 6-2. The two players then split the first six game of the third and deciding set, 3-3.
On serve, Shin, who also competed in doubles while Rosen did not, led in the seventh game 30-love and prevailed in the 4-3 and now Rosen would serve to try and even the set.
Shin broke Rosen's serve to take a 5-3 lead and putting herself in position to serve for the match. Shin struck first but Rosen took the next two points before Shin knotted the score at 30. Just as she did in doubles play Shin unleashed some tough serves on Rosen and Rosen's first return went into the net. Serving with a 40-30 lead Shin drove her serve deep and Rosen returned over the end line and the Ephs were NCAA Champions again!
Shin won in three sets 4-6, 6-2, 6-3.
"Today Linda Shin finished what she couldn't last year and she was more than ready and wanted to be in that position and she really came through," said Swain. "It was a battle, but we expected that it would be."
Summing up the championship run Swain offered, "I think our team knew we were tough but this week showed we really are and every single person on our roster contributed."
In 2001 and 2002 Williams became the first team to win back-to-back NCAA titles and Emory followed that accomplishment by becoming the first team to win four titles in a row (2003-06). After the intrusion by Washington & Lee the Ephs under the direction of head coach Alison Swain fashioned a 6-year win streak. Swain also set an NCAA Tournament record by winning 33 straight matches.
Four times the Ephs have defeated Emory for the title (2002, 2010, 2013 & 2015). Overall the Ephs are 7-1 vs. Emory in NCAA Tournament play.
Williams leads Division III in women's tennis titles won with nine and Emory is second with six.
Eph head coach Alison Swain owns the NCAA record for most women's tennis titles won (7) and most consecutive titles won (6). Swain also is the leader at Williams in NCAA titles won by one coach.
Eph women's tennis has won nine NCAA titles and Williams's women's crew has won nine NCAA titles, but the 2015 rowing championships are coming up on May 29-30 in Sacramento, CA.
Overall Williams has now won 32 NCAA titles in 10 sports.
All-time the Ephs are 9-2 in NCAA title matches.
The NCAA Division III Tournament began in 1982 and Williams and all of the members of NESCAC first participated in 1994 and yet Williams has compiled the most NCAA Tournament wins with 72.
Swain's all-time NCAA Tournament record is 39-1 and she owns the longest win streak in Division III tournament play, having won her first 33 matches.
NCAA Championship Match
Emory (Ga.) vs Williams (Mass.)
May 20, 2015 at Mason, Ohio
(Lindner Family Tennis Center)
#1 Williams (Mass.) 5, #2 Emory (Ga.) 4
1. Juli Raventos (WILW) def. Michelle Satterfield (EUW) 6-3, 6-2
2. Linda Shin (WILW) def. Beatrice Rosen (EUW) 4-6, 6-2, 6-3
3. Rebecca Curran (WILW) def. Melissa Goodman (EUW) 6-1, 6-2
4. Katarina Su (EUW) def. Mia Gancayco (WILW) 7-6 (7-2), 6-4
5. Bridget Harding (EUW) def. Julia Cancio (WILW) 6-4, 6-4
6. Madison Gordon (EUW) def. Hannah Atkinson (WILW) 6-4, 3-6, 6-0
1. Anna Fuhr/Michelle Satterfield (EUW) def. Julia Cancio/Mia Gancayco (WILW) 8-4
2. Juli Raventos/Linda Shin (WILW) def. Bridget Harding/Katarina Su (EUW) 8-6
3. Rebecca Curran/Maya Hart (WILW) def. Melissa Goodman/Rebecca Siegler (EUW) 8-1
Emory (Ga.) 20-4; National ranking #2
Williams (Mass.) 25-0; National ranking #1
Order of finish: Doubles (3,1,2); Singles (,3,5,1,4,6,2)
Finals of the 2015 NCAA III Women's Tennis Championships
Williams wins the NCAA III Women's Tennis Championships title.