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ISSUE 117 VOL 17 PUBLISHED 4/30/2004

Ladies upset Tommies, fall to third place Carleton 7-2

By Ken Foote
Sports Editor

Friday, April 30, 2004

The St. Olaf womens tennis team finished the regular season with big conference wins over Hamline, Macalester and Saint Marys before failing to end Gustavus 13-year streak of undefeated MIAC play. The late season surge was enough to vault the Oles into fifth place in the conference, meaning they would take on fourth-seeded St. Thomas in the first round of the MIAC tournament.

The Tommies edged the Oles 5-4 earlier this season and the black and gold were all too eager to return the favor. The quarterfinal battle would prove to be one of the best of the tournament as the Ole women pulled out a 5-4 win.

The match started appropriately enough, with each schools top two singles players teaming up in the number one doubles competition. The Tommie twosome hit the big shots late in the match to pull out an 8-6 win over the talented Ole tandem Beth Erie 05 and Kristen Buchta 05.

The team rebounded, however, to take the final two doubles matches and carry a 2-1 edge into the six-match singles portion of the meet. Misaki Kodama 07 and Emily Eggert 06 got the job done at number two doubles, and the senior-first year partnership of Jamie Brau and Jorie Steffen turned the trick for the Oles in number three doubles.

Erie and Buchta looked to avenge their tight loss in the doubles competition but found no luck on the singles side either as both lost to their St. Thomas counterparts in straight sets. Erie fell in number one singles 6-3, 6-3 while Buchta went down 6-1, 6-1.

Kodama got the Oles back on the winning track with relative ease at number three singles, dispatching her opponent 6-2, 6-3. However, a determined Tommie squad disrupted the squads momentum again in the number four singles match.

Brau dropped a tough tiebreaker in the first set only to rebound with a tiebreaker win of her own in the second set. The senior was unable to pull out the deciding set, falling 10-4 and putting the Oles semifinal hopes on Eggert and Lauren Benson 05.

Benson dictated the tempo in from the beginning on her number five singles match taking the first set 6-1 before closing out the second set 6-4.

With the meet knotted at four wins apiece, the number six singles match would decide the winner. That match would prove to be a microcosm of that days meet and showed how competitive the two squads were.

The first set seemed destined to a go to a tiebreaker, but Eggert made a crucial break of serve to secure the set 7-5. The second set was much like the first, with the exception that Eggert could not avoid the tiebreaker this time around. With great poise and determination, Eggert put away the match, assuring that the Oles would improve on last years fifth place finish.

Waiting ominously in the semifinals was Gustavus, winners of 12 straight MIAC tournaments, and 15 of the last 17. As expected, the Gusties rolled over the Oles 9-0 en route to their 13th consecutive MIAC tournament championship.

The unavoidable loss pitted the Oles against cross-town rival and co-host of the tournament Carleton, who suffered a 5-4 heartbreaker to St. Kates in the other semifinal meet. The Knights dominated most of the matches and claimed third place with a 7-2 victory. Notching wins for the Oles were Kodama and Eggert in number two doubles and Benson in number six singles.

The Oles one-upped their regular season ranking by finishing fourth. Next seasons squad should have the ingredients to continue the improvement trend as all but Brau will return to the courts next season.

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