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No. 43 Owls bash No. 26 Big Red in NCAC clash

GAMBIER, Ohio — The Jasper Tennis Center played host to a rematch of last year’s North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) Tournament Championship when the Kenyon College and Denison University women’s tennis teams matched up on Wednesday evening. The teams had to wait out a tornado warning in the early going, but the delay did not dissuade the hosting Owls from downing the Big Red with a commanding 8-1 decision.

Kenyon (10-6) entered the dual ranked No. 43 in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s national standings, but the Owls looked like anything but the underdog against No. 26-ranked Denison (13-8). Both teams entered the contest with unblemished 4-0 records in NCAC contests, but only the Owls came out unscathed with a flawless 5-0 mark. The win marked Kenyon’s 30th straight triumph in NCAC contests. Kenyon improved upon last season’s success against its conference rival, which saw the Owls oust the Big Red 6-3 in the regular season and 5-3 in the NCAC Tournament Championship match.

The Owls opened the dual well in doubles, but the teams had to clear the court due to a tornado warning with Kenyon leading 4-0 at No. 1 and 3-1 at No. 3, while the No. 2 match was tied 2-2. Kenyon maintained its early edge after waiting out the weather, and the Owls built a commanding 3-0 lead after sweeping doubles play. Lalasa Nagireddy and Ana Brand started the sweep by winning the No. 3 match 8-2 before Kenyon duos posted 8-4 wins in each of the top two doubles bouts.

Coming off their No. 1 doubles win, Eleni Lazaridou and Allaire Berl cruised to matching 6-0, 6-1 victories in the top two singles matches. Berl was the first to clinch a singles win, doing so at No. 2 and pulling Kenyon within a point of clinching the dual. Lazaridou locked down the team’s victory shortly thereafter by winning the No. 1 singles match. Berl’s victory was her eighth straight, the second-longest winning streak on the team, and both sophomores are 9-1 over their last 10 singles matches.

Shadia Amado Aguad continued her superb singles play, securing a 12th straight win. The sophomore swept the No. 3 match 6-4, 6-2, her eighth consecutive straight-set singles victory.

Denison picked up a point when Caroline Lopez defeated Eleni Dakos 7-6 (7-3), 6-2, 1-0 (10-7) in a highly competitive No. 4 match. However, Kenyon kept the sweeps coming in the last two singles matches when Brand and Nagireddy posted matching 6-3, 6-4 wins in the Nos. 5 and 6 matches, respectively.

After winning its penultimate league matchup, Kenyon can clinch a second straight NCAC Championship with a win in their final conference clash. In addition to going for the conference crown, the Owls will celebrate Senior Day on Saturday, April 20, when Kenyon hosts DePauw University at 10 a.m.

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