Yeowomen Set New Precedent, Runners-Up at NCACs

Phoebe Hammer, Staff Writer

Last weekend, for the first time in recent history, the women’s tennis team competed in the North Coast Athletic Conference championships. Although it lost 1–5 to the eight-ranked team in the nation, DePauw University, the Yeowomen put together one of the best seasons in program history and still have a chance to make the NCAA tournament with an at-large bid.

The Yeowomen, despite playing such a formidable opponent, came into the match with high expectations.

“We were clearly the underdogs, but also knew that at every spot in our lineup we could compete with them, and even win. We were really ready going into the match,” said sophomore Brenna Sheldon, who played in the No. 2 singles spot.

“There was a general sense of nervous excitement,” senior sensation Ariel Lewis added. “We all really wanted to play DePauw again, because we had lost to them earlier in the season, and we were riding a really strong winning streak going into this second matchup. We knew it would be difficult, but we all definitely felt that it was possible, and that made it exciting.”

Despite the 1–5 loss, the Yeowomen have much to be proud of this season. Lewis defeated DePauw’s No.1 with scores of 6–1, 6–2. Thanks to great performances like these, it is likely that Lewis will be competing individually at Nationals at the end of this month if the team doesn’t come with her.

Even more impressive, the Yeowomen were able to best Denison University, the reigning NCAC champions, twice this season. The Big Red had won the conference for the past 10 years and was even ranked fourth in the nation in as recently as 2009.

“Beating Denison twice this season was a very major and memorable accomplishment for our team. As we were preparing to play in the finals against DePauw, I actually heard an onlooker say that they couldn’t believe that we had beaten Denison — that it must have been a mistake,” commented Lewis. “We’ve gone from being blown out by them four years ago to beating them convincingly twice this year; it’s really just a sign of how far our program has come.”

Best of all, the Yeowomen love what they are doing.

“We’ve become really close as a team. We love our coach, we have a good balance between training on and off the court, there hasn’t been too much drama and we’ve improved our doubles a ton!” Sheldon explained. “For me, the best part of this season has been loving tennis more than ever before. There’s hardly a day when I don’t look forward to practice,” she said.

The Yeowomen finish the regular season 19–6 (3–0 in the NCAC East). With a 14-match winning streak and a great showing at the NCAC championships, however, the Yeowomen are in the running for an at-large bid to the NCAA team championships in early June. This Monday, the selections will be announced.