CLAREMONT, Calif. (May 2, 2019) – The 20th-ranked Caltech women's tennis team will challenge the fifth-ranked squad in the country, Pomona-Pitzer Colleges, in the first round of the SCIAC Postseason Tournament on Friday afternoon.
The Beavers enter the tournament seeded third after recording a 5-2 ledger in SCIAC play this spring, with both losses coming to the top seeds in the first two matches of the season back in February. The Beavers took a combined five of just 18 points the Claremont Consortium schools surrendered in conference play, including a 7-2 defeat at the Sagehens in which Caltech defaulted two points due to injury. Pomona-Pitzer Colleges are the second seed after dropping a 7-2 decision to Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges just over a week ago and last fell to a SCIAC opponent other than CMS five years ago. Their only three Division III losses this season have come against the top-three ranked teams in the country.
Coming off an individual singles title at the 119th Ojai Tournament and on the brink of NCAA National Championship qualification, senior Kana Moriyama (Redmond, Wash. / Redmond) has as much momentum as she could ask for heading into a rematch with the second-ranked player in the West region, Caroline Casper, who just beat the region's top-ranked player (Catherine Allen of CMS) and claimed a 6-3, 6-1 win over Moriyama on Feb. 16. Rookie Anna Tifrea (Fullerton, Calif. / Troy) has had a phenomenal start to her career with a 12-4 record at second singles this spring (earning her the 16th rank in the West region) and should have the chance to avenge her early-season loss to SCIAC Newcomer of the Year Maria Lyven, who is ranked fourth in the region and recorded Pomona-Pitzer's largest margin of victory in this matchup in February.
The Beavers' rock in the lineup all season, sophomore Sarina Liu (Rolling Hills, Calif. / Palos Verdes Peninsula) outlasted Arianna Chen – who is 0-2 in her last two Division III matches – in a super tiebreaker in February at third singles and at 12-4 overall with an undefeated mark in SCIAC play, will be one point the Beavers count on to help them pull the upset. Chen's likely opponent, however, is rookie Jennifer Yu (Queens, N.Y. / Stuyvesant), who has climbed from fifth to third singles throughout the spring and will look to take another point against the Sagehens coming off a team-best 13-1 record in dual matches. Liu and freshman Michelle Hyun (Cerritos, Calif. / Gretchen Whitney) then would be set to face Lucy Jiang and Jacinta Chen, the latter which has lost her past two DIII matches at third and fourth singles. Sophomore Ankita Roychoudhury (Madison, Conn. / Daniel Hand) will hold down the final spot in the lineup, likely against Rebecca Salaway, who had won 11 straight matches before suffering defeat to CMS last week.
The doubles points should be hotly contested as well; the Sagehens have shaken up their doubles lineup multiple times this season, but seem to have settled in with Chen joining Lyven at the top spot, where Pomona-Pitzer has claimed 11 of their last 12 matches. That has left Grace Hruska and Lucy Jiang trying to find chemistry fat second doubles, with Casper at court three alongside familiar partner Jay Kim. Caltech's top team of Moriyama and Liu has gone 9-7 to earn the number eight rank in the region, while injuries and roster size have limited the Beavers' ability to send out regular pairings at courts two and three. Tifrea and Yu won both matches they played together at second doubles, but Tifrea has also gone 6-8 alongside one of Hyun or Roychoudhury while Yu is 5-5 otherwise.
Head Coach Mandy Gamble and the Beavers are set for a 4 p.m. first serve on Friday, May 3 at the Pauley Tennis Complex in Claremont.