Story by Mitch Blankespoor
KALAMAZOO, Mich. - The Kalamazoo College women's tennis team saw its 2014 season come to an end with a 5-2 loss to Hope College in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) Tournament final Friday, May 2.
Kalamazoo did itself no favors in doubles, losing all three flights to Hope. Senior Jenna Riehl and sophomore Sarah Woods fell to Nancy Benda and Carli Capestany 8-2 at first doubles. Coming into the match, the Flying Dutch were ranked as the No. 2 doubles team in the Central Region by itatennis.com.
At second doubles, senior Kelsey Moran and junior Olivia Bouchard fell to Claire Cooper and Anna Garcia 8-4. Third doubles proved to be the closest match of the three, but sophomore Ania Latala and freshman Sabrina Dass lost the flight 8-5.
"Hope played very well in doubles today," Kalamazoo Head Coach Mark Murphy said. "Being down 3-0 is often a death sentence, but we battled back to within two points. We just lost a little time at court two and three."
Hope took a 4-0 lead when Cooper defeated Riehl 6-2, 6-3 at second singles. Cooper avenged a defeat earlier in the year when Riehl knocked off Cooper in three sets to clinch K's 5-4 victory at Hope on April 1.
Trailing 4-0, Kalamazoo got its first point of the match at fourth singles when Dass beat Paige Courts 6-3, 6-1. The Grand Blanc native lost the first three games of the match but went on a 12-1 games run to finish. Woods then won her second of three matches against Benda this season winning first singles 6-2, 7-5.
The match-clinching flight came at third singles where Capistany defeated Moran 7-5, 6-3 to send Hope to the NCAA III Women's Tennis Championship. Fifth and sixth singles were unfinished.
Kalamazoo finishes its season with a 15-5 record, its highest win total since 2007. The Hornets finished the MIAA regular season undefeated with a perfect 8-0 record.
"This is one of the best teams I have ever been around men or women," said Murphy. "Their passion and fight for our program is unmatched."
After the match, Woods was named MIAA Most Valuable Player for the second consecutive year. Joining Woods on the All-MIAA First Team was Riehl while Moran earned a spot on the All-MIAA Second Team.