The women’s tennis team ended its 2014 season strong, with a 16-5 record overall and an 8-3 record in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
On Friday, the women competed in the SCIAC quarterfinal and semifinal rounds at the Biszantz Family Tennis Center.
The Leopard earned two wins, defeating Whittier, 5-1, and Pomona-Pitzer 7-2.
ULV defeated Whittier in the morning quarterfinal match, allowing them to advance to the semifinals.
“That’s the first time we’ve beaten Pomona since 1998,” head coach Yolanda Duron said. “That was quite an achievement.”
The Leopards upset No. 6, Pomona-Pitzer with three strong doubles matches.
Freshman Bridget Etchegary and sophomore Andrea Madrigal were down by one point, but came back, winning 9-7.
Junior Laina Matsuda and senior Jeanette Losaria scored seven unanswered points, winning, 9-8.
Freshman Lauren Torres and sophomore Shenelle Trujillo came out with a 7-5 win, giving La Verne a 3-0 lead going into singles play.
Etchegary and Madrigal came through for the Leopards, winning in their singles match, 6-2, 6-1 and 7-5, 6-1.
The team also won four of the matches in tiebreakers.
“My love for the team fueled me for the championships,” Madrigal said.
Losaria also pushed herself as she played one of her final collegiate matches.
“Everyone really stepped up,” Matsuda said.
On Saturday, the team competed against top seeded Claremont-Mudd-Scripps in the SCIAC finals.
This was the first time that La Verne has competed against CMS in the SCIAC finals.
CMS is one team that the Leopards struggled to beat.
The Athenas opened up the singles matches with a 3-0 lead.
Etchegary, Madrigal, Matsuda and Losaria gave their best efforts, but it was not enough to win.
La Verne could not overcome a 2-1 doubles deficit, resulting a 5-4 loss.
The team now has the No. 2 spot in the SCIAC standings.
“We’ve never been second in SCIAC,” Matsuda said. “It’s the highest we’ve ever been ranked.”
The close-knit team hopes to maintain momentum in the seasons to come.
“This year, we definitely came together more,” Madrigal said.
Madrigal wants to focus more on team bonding early in the season.
“I want to get that closeness early on,” Madrigal said.
Going into next season, Matsuda and Madrigal agree that zero expectations will be made.
“Pretend we’re the underdogs and we have nothing to lose,” Matsuda said.
Madrigal also wants to avoid the pressures of “we have to do this, we have to do that.”
Duron hopes to improve everyone’s overall game and in doubles.
“The girls are having a lot of fun and that’s all I can ask of them,” Duron said.
Madrigal will compete in the Division III Individual Women’s Tennis Championships on May 22-24.
“I’m just living in the moment and I don’t want it to end,” Madrigal said.
Losaria and Matsuda have also been named the doubles team alternates and are the first Leopard duo to reach the final at the Ojai Tennis Tournament.
“Everything from here on out is icing on the cake,” Losaria said.
The team championships will be held on May 19-24 and the individual championships will be held on May 22-24 at Biszantz Family Tennis Center, with times to be announced.
“We have nothing to lose and everything to gain,” Duron said.
Hannah Burton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.