The third-seeded Tabor College women’s tennis team was one of four teams to qualify for the KCAC tournament in Topeka last week.
The Bluejays (6-2, 9-5) faced second-seeded Southwestern (7-1, 16-4), who is receiving votes nationally, in the semifinals Friday and lost, 5-4. During the regular season, Tabor lost to Southwestern, 7-2, in early April.
“The Southwestern women are very deep, with every one of the top seven players rated with a 6 Universal Tennis Rating in both singles and doubles,” coach John Ruder said. “Our girls stood toe-to-toe and slugged it out. Tournament matches are called as soon as a team wins five matches; however, the ladies forced all nine matches to be played to completion.”
Tabor led, 2-1, after doubles play, with Jessica Emoto and Mandi Hiett winning 8-4 at No. 1 doubles and Kiana Fujioka and Celeste Worthy winning 8-6 at No. 3.
But Tabor won just two of six singles matches. Bluejays earning victories in singles were Emoto at No. 1, and Heidi Klaassen, who battled from behind in all three sets she played, at No. 3.
“I am very proud of this team,” Ruder said. “They played their hearts out and left everything on the court. The match was tough and competitive, yet they displayed sportsmanship with a fighting spirit at all times.”
The Bluejays received the KCAC Women’s Tennis Champions of Character award for the second consecutive year.
Top-seeded and 23rd-ranked McPherson won the tournament title, defeating Bethel, 5-0, in the semifinals, then defeating Southwestern in the championship, 5-0.
vs. Southwestern (April 28)
Southwestern 5, TC women 4
Singles (2-4). No. 1: Jessica Emoto (T) def. Sydney Shields 6-0, 6-0. No. 2: Naima Mexsen (T) lost to Olivia Medaris 7-5, 6-3. No. 3: Heidi Klaassen (T) def. Anna Mankoski 4-6, 7-5, 6-4. No. 4: Kiana Fujioka (T) lost to Abbi Groff 6-3, 6-3. No. 5: Mandi Hiett (T) lost to Jerlecia Thompson 6-2, 6-4. No. 6: Tessa Isaac (T) lost to Taylor Crawford 6-2, 6-4.
Doubles (2-1). No. 1: Emoto/Hiett (T) def. Medaris/Shields 8-4. No. 2: Klaassen/Mexsen (T) lost to Hughes/Mankoski 8-2. No. 3: Fujioka/Worthy (T) def. Pfau/Caro 8-6.
Final record: 9-6 overall.