Women's tennis team wins national title, a first for Emory

The women's tennis team won the NCAA Division III national team championship to cap off Emory's most successful spring for varsity athletics. All six of the school's spring varsity sports--baseball, golf, tennis (men and women), track and field (men and women)--were selected for their respective NCAA national championships.

The men's tennis squad was the national runner-up at its team championship, hosted by Emory, making Emory the first NCAA Division III school in history to have both tennis teams reach the championship finals in the same year.

The women's tennis team's NCAA crown is the first national team champion-ship for Emory. Previously, the best national finish by any Emory varsity team was fourth.

Seeded third heading into the NCAA women's tennis tournament at Kalamazoo, Mich., the Eagles beat Skidmore (N.Y.) 5-3 in the first round, and Amherst (Mass.), 5-3, in the quarterfinals.

The pivotal match of the tournament turned out to be the semifinals in which Emory knocked off the defending national champion and No. 1 seed, Kenyon (Ohio) 5-4 in an eight-hour match. The Eagles went ahead 2-1 after doubles thanks to the No. 2 doubles tandem of Jessica Levy and Stefanie Leshaw, who rallied from a 7-2 deficit in games and 40-15 in points to win 9-7 in the eight-game pro-set match.

"This is a Hallmark moment, the thrill of a lifetime," said Coach Cathy Benton. "Our players played with tremendous heart and determination. They represented Emory with class and pride."

Back in Atlanta, Emory men's tennis team wrote its own storybook ending as the Eagles reached the championship finals for the first time before losing to the defending champion and No. 1 seed, California-Santa Cruz. Emory, seeded third, advanced with a 4-3 upset of Kalamazoo (Mich.), avenging losses to Kalamazoo in the regular season and in the semifinals of last year's NCAA national tournament.

""On paper, this was not supposed to be one of Emory's great teams, but they played with a lot of heart and emotion," Emory Head Coach Don Schroer said. "I'm proud of them for achieving what no other Emory men's tennis team has accomplished."

-- John Arenberg

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