Women’s tennis takes conference crown

    On the bright, sunny afternoon of April 18, the Tritons women’s tennis team crowned themselves with their first ever California Collegiate Athletic Association championship title with a 5-0 win over Cal State Los Angeles at UCSD’s Northview Tennis Courts.

    The championship match, which was postponed due to rain, will give the women a chance to compete in the NCAA regional qualifier tournament in two weeks. Matchups and dates are yet to be determined.

    The tournament victory was the first for UCSD, which lost in the championships in the past two years. But as the old saying goes, the third time’s the charm, and the Tritons achieved their season goal of winning the conference crown. En route to the championships, the women defeated Sonoma State, 5-1, on April 16 in the semifinals. The two wins put the Tritons’ overall season record at 16-8.

    “We came out fighting today because we really wanted it this year,” Senior Kristina Jansen said. “For the past two years, we’ve lost in the championships, so this year we were determined not to let it happen again.”

    The Tritons faced both Cal State Los Angeles and Sonoma State earlier in the season and came out victorious both times with 6-3 and 9-0 wins, respectively.

    On April 18, the Tritons came out ready and fighting. At No. 2 doubles, Tara Siddiqui and Kristin Bronowicki defeated their opponents with a quick and easy 8-2 win. At No. 3 doubles, UCSD’s sisters Allison and Jenna Ishii battled hard against Silvana Stans and Phoebe Bachofer to pull away and win, 8-4.

    The Tritons’ No. 1 doubles had a much harder time against their opponents, Charise Godoy and Ronalyn Miller. The match began with a series of unforced errors on UCSD’s part, but relying on Julie Westerman’s hard-hitting serves and Jasmin Dao’s wide range of shots, the duo was able to come back from being down 4-5 to come out victorious. Dao ended the match with a hard hit overhead to make the final score 8-6.

    “We came out a bit nervous,” Dao said. “But Julie and I have been playing together all year so we feed off each other’s energy. We’ve played against these opponents before and they are a good team.”

    The victorious doubles lineup made the match even easier going into singles with a 3-0 lead.

    The Tritons’ doubles lineup has definitely come a long way since the beginning of the season.

    “I would like to give Timmer Willing, our assistant coach, a lot of credit,” head coach Liz LaPlante said. “It’s only his second year coaching and he’s been working with our girls on doubles. He’s definitely improved our doubles lineup and made it stronger than ever before.”

    With a 3-0 lead, the Tritons only needed two more wins to seal a conference championship. No. 5 singles Marissa Hilker and No. 6 Jansen each came out with quick 6-0, 6-0 victories to give UCSD the win. Once the Tritons bagged the win, the rest of the matches were called off.

    At. No. 1, Westerman was losing to her opponent 0-6, 1-2 and at No. 2, Dao had just finished off her first set, 6-1, and was tied, 1-1, in the second. Siddiqui, who played No. 3, was losing, 3-5, and Leigh Roberts was ahead, 6-1, 4-0, at No. 4 singles.

    “We had come out expecting a win because we’ve played [Cal State] LA before, but they’re a great team and have come a long way this year,” Jansen said.

    On April 16, the Tritons faced Sonoma State in the semifinals and came out victorious, 5-1.

    “Everyone played well; we came out a bit nervous at first,” LaPlante said. “But after a while, we just settled in and played like we could.”

    Westerman and Dao had no trouble defeating their opponents, 8-3, at No. 1 doubles, and the Ishii sisters defeated Katie Murphy and Kim Coulson in a quick 8-1 match. But No. 2 doubles Siddiqui and Bronowicki had a much harder time with their opponents and lost a close 6-8 match against Kelly Murphy and Gina Dunch.

    Going into the singles lineup, UCSD was leading, 2-1, but three quick matches from No. 3 Siddiqui, No. 4 Roberts and No. 6 freshman Katie McKee brought home the semifinal win. Siddiqui defeated her opponent, 6-1, 6-1, and Roberts double goose-egged her opponent, 6-0, 6-0. McKee played the great tennis she’s been playing all season and defeated her opponent, 6-1, 6-3.

    Westerman had just finished off her first set, 7-5, and both Dao and Hilker were on the verge of winning their matches, 6-3, 5-0 and 6-4, 5-4, respectively, when the game was called.

    “It was [UC] Davis two years ago and Cal Poly Pomona last year who defeated us in the championships, so it was nice to finally win,” LaPlante said. “This has been our goal all season, and it feels great to finally get it.

    In two weeks, the girls will either head to Hawaii or host a match at UCSD for regionals. The seeding for regionals has not been set, but the Tritons are expecting to be seeded third.

    “In these next two weeks, we’re just going to be working on fine-tuning everyone’s game.” LaPlante said. “It all just comes down to confidence. We need to make sure everyone is playing at their peak. The pressure was on us this weekend, and it’ll be there again later on.”

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