DePauw University women's tennis claims fourth straight North Coast Athletic Conference title

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For DePauw University tennis, streaks were continued at the North Coast Athletic Conference Championships held at Kenyon College.

DePauw’s women earned their fourth straight conference title after shutting out Denison University 6-0 in the final and will be headed for the NCAA tournament for the 11th year in a row. For the men, the weekend marked their third straight runner-up finish to Kenyon, who won the conference for the ninth year in a row.

“I'm so proud of how the team performed this weekend and especially excited for the 6 seniors we have,” sophomore Maddie Lee said. “They've contributed so much over the years and it's great to see the work pay off.”

The men’s message was less positive.

“[Kenyon’s] a good team and we fought them hard but it was disappointing,” senior Eric Vannatta said.

What made the weekend even more special for the women, was their domination of the rest of the competition. In 17 singles and doubles matches over the three days, the Tigers failed to lose a single one.

The Tigers opened up the event winning a 5-0 decision over Wittenberg University. The women were spurred on by an impressive performance in the doubles portion of the match, as they lost only one out of the 25 total games.

Waiting for them in the semifinals was host Kenyon, however, the Ladies were quickly disposed of by a final score of 6-0 on Saturday.

Next up for the Tigers was the Big Red in Sunday’s final.

DePauw got off to a good start winning all three doubles matches by scores of 8-2, 8-2 and 8-1. Seniors Carolyn Huerth and Kaitlin Pickrel then wrapped up the overall championship for the Tigers, claiming their singles matches 6-0, 6-1 and 6-2, 6-1 respectively.

The three weekend wins mean the Tigers finish the regular season with an overall record of 19-5 and went a perfect 6-0 in conference play.

“We made a point to focus on taking it one match at a time and were really excited about going up against each of our opponents,” senior Maggie Macphail said.

For the men, the weekend also started off with a shutout victory. In the conference quarterfinals, the men blanked the College of Wooster 5-0 on Friday. The Tigers had the match in hand after they took all three of the doubles matches.

Then came the team’s first real challenge of the weekend in the form of the Denison Big Red. The Tigers and Big Red battled things out for over five hours on Saturday, with DePauw eventually emerging victorious with a final score of 5-3.

The Big Red took the days first doubles match, however the pairs of Vannatta and junior Alec Kaczkowski and then senior Chris Bertolini and sophomore Dan Rodefeld won their matches to give DePauw a 2-1 lead heading into the singles competition.

Kaczkowski and Rodefeld won their singles matches to extend the DePauw lead to two, however, the Big Red cut the lead to one after winning the fourth seeded singles match over sophomore Patrick Farrell in three sets.

Sophomore Matt Santen secured DePauw’s spot in the finals in the sixth singles position, winning his match in three sets.

Waiting for the Tigers was an all too familiar opponent. In each of the past two seasons the Lords of Kenyon had ended DePauw’s hopes for a conference title and on Sunday, that trend continued with a 6-1 loss.

Kenyon jumped out to a big lead winning the three doubles competitions right out of the gate. Farrell battled back to get the Tigers on the scoreboard, winning his singles match out of the fourth seed.

The Lords wrapped up the match, and the championship, after Kaczkowski and Rodefeld dropped their matches in the two and three spots.

“It's very disappointing to lose in the conference final again,” Farrell said. “You definitely don't like to lose the same team again either, but that only makes you want to work harder to beat them the next time around.”

The loss means the Tigers will close out the regular season at 12-11 overall and 6-1 conference play. Despite the loss in the final match, the team still considers the season a success.

“I think we made a lot of great strides throughout the year and the team was really close so I'd consider that a success, but the result is definitely not what we wanted,” Farrell said.

The season for the men is over, while the women will wait for the NCAA draw to take place so they know who their opponent will be when the national tournament begins on May 10.