The Gustavus women’s tennis team suffered another heartbreaking loss in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Team Championship which is being held in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The Gusties lost to Middlebury 5-4 on Wednesday morning. Coach Jon Carlson’s squad finishes the season with a 30-3 mark. This is the seventh consecutive year that Gustavus has lost in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament. Four of those losses have been 5-4 decisions.
Wednesday’s match saw the Gusties take a 2-1 lead after doubles play. Lauren Hom and Kara Smiley defeated Amanda Berck and Amy Roche 8-5 at the #2 position and Marla Menne and Jenni White defeated Emily Holick and Maren Messing 8-6 at the #3 position. Tara Houlihan and Lyndsey Palen lost to Jackie Ross and Claire Smyser 8-4 at the #1 position.
In singles play, Middlebury evened the score at 2-2 when Amy Roche defeated Tara Houlihan 6-0, 6-0 at #1. Gustavus re-claimed the lead at 3-2 when Lyndsey Palen defeated Claire Smyser 6-3, 6-2 at the #4 position. Middlebury rallied to pick up wins at #3 where Amanda Berck defeated Kara Smiley 6-4, 6-1 and #4 where Emily Holick defeated Jaime Gaard 6-2, 6-3. The Gusties then bounced back to tie the match at 4-4 when Marla Menne defeated Amy Berkman 6-4, 7-5.
The last match left on the court was at the #2 position where Gustavus’ Lauren Hom was facing Middlebury’s Jackie Ross. Ross won the first set 6-1, but then Hom bounced back to win the second set 7-6 (8-6 in the tiebreaker). Hom fought off two match points to win that second set. Unfortunately for Gustavus, Ross claimed the third set 6-1 allowing the Panthers to defeat the Gusties 5-4.
Four Gustavus players will now focus their attention on the singles and doubles tournaments which will begin on Saturday. Tara Houlihan and Lauren Hom will take part in the singles champioship, while the tandems of Houlihan and Lyndsay Palen, and Hom and Kara Smiley will take part in the doubles championship.