KALAMAZOO, Mich. – The No. 4 Wesleyan women’s tennis team captured its first NCAA Championship, knocking off defending National Champion and second-ranked Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (CMS) 5-4 on Wednesday.
The historic victory all came down to the third set at No. 4 singles featuring Wesleyan’s Polina Kiseleva and CMS’s Sydney Lee. Kiseleva eased to a 6-2 triumph in the first set, but it was all Lee in the second, as she took the win 6-4. In the third and final set, Kiseleva took a 3-0 lead and never trailed again, as she topped Lee 6-2 to lift the Cardinals over the Athenas for the National Championship crown.
The title is the first women’s team championship for Wesleyan Athletics, and second team title (men’s lacrosse) overall in as many seasons. With the victory, the Cardinals become the first NESCAC school, other than Williams, to win the title since 1999. The historic win improved Wesleyan’s school record for most wins in a season with 20, and only two losses.
Wesleyan advanced to the Championship match by defeating No. 8 Brandeis 5-0 in the Regional Final, topping No. 19 MIT 5-1 in Quarterfinal action and upsetting No. 1 Emory 5-4 on Tuesday in its first Semifinal appearance. With Wesleyan’s victory over Emory, it was the first time since 2012 that the Eagles did not advance to the title match. The 5-4 triumph over CMS to win the National title handed the Athenas their second loss of the season, as they finish 27-2.
- The Athena duo of Lee and Madison Shea got CMS on the board with a victory at No. 3 doubles. Trailing 6-2, Wesleyan’s Alissa Nakamoto and Alexis Almy cut the deficit to two (6-4), but it was not enough, as CMS was victorious 8-4.
- The Cardinals knotted the match at 1-1 when duo Venia Yeungand Kiseleva earned a point at No. 2. Knotted 5-5, the tandem stayed focused, winning three-straight games to top CMS’s Sarah Bahsoun and Nicole Tan, 8-5.
- Wesleyan took a 2-1 edge in doubles after an exciting match at No. 1, featuring sister duo Victoria Yu and Kristina Yu against Athena pair Catherine Allen and Caroline Cox. The match was tied three times before the Yu sisters had the victory within reach. Up 7-6, the Yu pair found themselves down love-40 in the 14th game, but they battled back, taking the match 8-6.
- CMS earned the first singles point at No. 6 to knot the match 2-2. Bahsoun won the first set 6-0, but Wesleyan’s Megan Tran fought hard in the second set, trying to force a split. Tran took an early 3-1 lead, but Bahsoun came from behind to win five-straight games for the 6-3 second-set victory.
- Almy’s first set at No. 5 singles featured back-and-forth action with Cox, but Almy won two-straight games to earn the 6-4 victory, before blanking her opponent 6-0 in the second set to put the Cardinals up 3-2.
- Wesleyan extended its lead to 4-2 when Yeung eased past Tan at #2. Yeung started out strong, winning all six games in the first set. Up 4-0 in the second, CMS’s Tan fought back, cutting the deficit to two (4-2), but Yeung won two-straight games to earn a point for the Cardinals.
- Athena’s Rebecca Berger came into her match at No. 3 fresh, having not played in doubles. She jumped out to a 4-0 lead over Wesleyan’s first-year Yu in the first set, and despite Yu knotting it 4-4, it was Berger who came out on top 6-4. The second set was similar to the first, as Berger won 6-3.
- In the No. 1 spot, senior Yu suffered a 6-3 loss to Allen in the first set. The second set saw four ties, but knotted at 5-5, Allen pulled away for the 7-5 victory, knotting the match 4-4.
- The National Championship match all came down to a hard fought battle at No. 4 between Kiseleva and Lee. Knotted 2-2 in the first set, Kiseleva won four-straight to win 6-2. In the second set, tied at 3-3, Lee took a 5-3 lead. Kiseleva cut the deficit to one (5-4), but Lee was victorious in the next game to pick up a 6-4 victory and send the deciding match into a third set. Kiseleva took the first three games in the third, before Lee answered, bringing herself within two (4-2), but Kiseleva was patient, winning the next two games to clinch the historic National Championship victory for Wesleyan.