Tara Houlihan and Lyndsey Palen defeated teammates Lauren Hom and Kara Smiley 6-0, 6-3, to win the NCAA Division III Doubles Championship on Monday afternoon in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Houlihan and Palen are the first from the Gustavus women’s tennis program to claim an NCAA individual national title. The Gusties won a NCAA national team title in 1990, however no one had ever claimed a national singles or doubles title in the NCAA Tournament.
Houlihan (Jr., Sioux Falls, So. Dak.) and Palen (Jr., Rochester, Minn.), who played the #1 doubles position for the Gusties this past season, finish with an overall record of 20-4. Hom (So., Stevens Point, Wisc.) and Smiley (Sr., Bovey, Minn.), who played the #2 doubles position, finished with an overall mark of 30-4.
All four players were key contributors to a Gustavus women’s team that posted an overall mark of 30-3 this season and finished fifth at the NCAA Team Championship.
Houlihan and Palen are the first from the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference to ever win a national women’s individual tennis title.
The NCAA Doubles Championship consisted of 16 doubles teams from eight regions in the United States. Neither of the Gustavus doubles teams were seeded in the tournament draw. Hom and Smiley defeated the #2 seeded team of Kelly Mikkila and Elizca Buys of Carthage in the quarterfinals, while Houlihan and Palen defeated the #1 seeded duo of Lindsay Hagerman and Ginny Wortham of Washington and Lee in the semifinals.
Note – Tracy Erickson and Lisa Broughten won the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Division III National Doubles title in October of 1994. The ITA regional and national tournaments are held in the fall and are not under the auspices of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).