The Gustavus women’s tennis program assured itself of its first NCAA National Doubles title when Tara Houlihan (Jr., Sioux Falls, So. Dak.) and Lyndsey Palen (Jr., Rochester, Minn.) and Lauren Hom (So., Stevens Point, Wisc.) and Kara Smiley (Sr., Bovey, Minn.) each won their semifinal matches today in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The two Gustavus teams will now play for the national championship beginning at 3:15 pm today.
Houlihan and Palen rallied from a large deficit to defeat the top-seeded team of Lindsay Hagerman and Ginny Wortham of Washington and Lee 2-6, 7-5, 6-3. The Gusties’ #1 doubles team was down 2-6, 3-5 and 15-40, when they survived three match points and won the game to pull within 4-5. The duo then won the next three games to claim the set 7-5 and even the match. Houlihan and Palen, who are unseeded in the tournament, then won the third set 6-3 to improve their overall record to 19-4.
Hom and Smiley defeated Emily Applegate and Kristen McClung of Washington and Lee 6-2, 6-4 in the other semifinal. Hom and Smiley, the Gusties’ #2 doubles team, improved their overall record to 30-3 this season. Hom and Smiley were also unseeded in the tournament
This is only the second time that two doubles teams from the same school have advanced to the NCAA Division III Women’s Doubles Championship match. Last year, Emory University placed its two doubles teams in the final.