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Women's Tennis falls to Kenyon in NCAC Championship

Emma Alsup  |  Photo by Levi Rex
Emma Alsup | Photo by Levi Rex

INDIANAPOLIS—Denison women's tennis suffered a 5-3 loss to top-seeded Kenyon in the championship match of the 2019 North Coast Athletic Conference Tournament at the Indianapolis Racquet Club.

The Big Red got off to a strong start, earning the first point of the match following an 8-5 victory at No. 1 doubles.  That matchup pitted the top two teams in the central region.  Kenyon's Erika Oku and Maggie Sweeney were ranked No. 1 while Denison's Lauren Hawley and Emma Alsup were ranked No. 2. In the regular season matchup between Denison and Kenyon on March 26, the Ladies duo came away with an 8-3 win.  This time, Hawley and Alsup managed to pull off the 8-5 victory bolstering their resume for an NCAA Tournament doubles berth.  The pair is 21-7 with a 6-2 record against regionally ranked opponents.

Kenyon responded with wins at second and third doubles to take a 2-1 lead into singles.  The biggest point of the match came at third doubles where Annie Reiner and Kayla Pukys defeated Denison's Ashley Hammons and Megan Hickey in a tiebreaker, 8-7 (7-1).

In singles play, Denison's Hannah Cianciola tied the match at 2-2 with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Sweeney in the fourth flight.

Kenyon's Ilana Blackwood put the Ladies back on top 3-2 with a 6-3, 6-0 win over Denison's Alex Cash at No. 3.

The Big Red tied the match at 3-3 following Alsup's 7-5, 6-3 win over Daria Beshentseva at No. 2. 

Oku, who is ranked second in singles play in the central region, took down 11th ranked Hawley, 6-3, 6-1, putting Kenyon one point away from clinching the championship.

That championship point came at sixth singles when Reiner defeated Hammons, 6-4, 6-1 to end the match at 5-4. 

Denison's record moves to 13-9 while Kenyon improves to 17-3.  Kenyon, who is ranked 13th nationally, will receive the NCAC's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.  Twenty-sixth ranked Denison will await the selection committee's decision on a potential at-large bid.