by Alan Babbitt
The Hope College women's tennis team went serve for serve with 13th-ranked Kenyon College (Ohio) before finally falling, 5-3, during the second round of the NCAA Division III Tournament on Friday in Gambier, Ohio.
Kenyon (19-3 overall) clinched a berth in the regional final with a three-set victory at No. 5 singles and No. 1 singles still on the court tied at one-set apiece.
No. 33-ranked Hope finished with an 18-6 record.
Photo of Sydney Jackson by Alan Babbitt
"Going down 2-1 in doubles is an uphill battle. It changes the whole dynamic," head coach Bob Cawood said. "We fought, played our best match of the year in terms of singles. We just put together all the things we've been working on all season. We just fought until the end.
"This is a regional rivalry, especially the last 6, 7 years. It brings out the best in us. It brings us the best in them, too."
In singles play, the Flying Dutch earned points at No. 2 with Bandrowski and No. 4 with freshman Sydney Jackson of Fort Wayne, Indiana (Carroll).
Kenyon, which will face No. 13 Carnegie Mellon University (Pennsylvania) in the regional final, grabbed an early lead by winning two of three doubles flights.
On a cool and windy afternoon, simplicity helped the Flying Dutch pick up points and give themselves a chance for a comeback.
"The most important thing was to get the ball in. We did a good job of doing that, especially on Bailey (Chorney's) court," Cawood said. "It didn't matter the type of tennis she was playing. It was high-looping balls. By getting the ball in, you win a lot of points."
1. Erika Oku (KENW) vs. Claire Hallock (HOPE-W) 3-6, 7-5, 1-0, unfinished
2. Amanda Bandrowski (HOPE-W) def. Daria Beshentseva (KENW) 6-2, 7-6 (7-1)
3. Sydney Jackson (HOPE-W) def. Ilana Blackwood (KENW) 6-0, 7-6 (7-4)
4. Maggie Sweeney (KENW) def. Taylor LaBarge (HOPE-W) 6-1, 6-2
5. Kayla Pukys (KENW) def. Bailey Chorney (HOPE-W) 3-6, 6-4, 6-4
6. Annie Reiner (KENW) def. Erin LaBarge (HOPE-W) 6-0, 6-1