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Owls start NCAA Tournament with win over Norse

ST. LOUIS, Mo. — The Kenyon College women’s tennis team opened its NCAA Division III Women’s Tennis Championship run with a win in its first-round matchup against Luther College. The Owls took two of three doubles matches before wrapping up the 5-1 win with three singles victories to knock the Norse out of the national tournament and advance to the second round.

Kenyon, the No. 22-ranked team in the latest Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) NCAA DIII poll, improved to 15-6 in duals this season. The Owls advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the second straight season, and Kenyon has now won its first-round matchup in its last six NCAA Tournament appearances. On the other side, No. 48-ranked Luther’s season came to a close after the Norse compiled a 19-12 overall record.

The Owls quickly dished out a pair of doubles victories to open the first-to-five dual with a 2-0 edge. Shadia Amado Aguad and Eleni Dakos prevailed 8-1 in the No. 2 doubles match, giving the Owls an early edge. Kenyon’s top duo of Eleni Lazaridou and Allaire Berl whipped up an 8-3 win in the No. 1 flight, doubling the team’s lead. 

The No. 3 doubles bout was a back-and-forth battle that saw Kenyon’s Ana Brand and Lalasa Nagireddy go toe-to-toe against Riley O’Donnell and Abby Ostermann. Brand and Nagireddy built a 6-5 lead, but the Norse combination fought back to go up 7-6. The teams were tied up at 7-7, and Luther outlasted Kenyon in the tiebreak to secure an 8-7 (7-1) victory.

Despite the doubles decision, Kenyon reclaimed the momentum and dominated singles play to prevent Luther from getting on the board again.

Berl bumped Kenyon’s team total to three with a 6-1, 6-1 win, finishing first at the No. 2 singles spot. Nagireddy was next up, and her 6-1, 6-0 victory in the No. 6 singles match pulled the Owls within a point of clinching the dual. Lazaridou landed the final blow against Luther, securing Kenyon’s spot in the second round after prevailing 6-0, 6-1 in the top singles contest.

With an NCAA Tournament win under their belt, the Owls have a rematch on deck for the second round. Kenyon will square off tomorrow, May 10, against No. 21-ranked Sewanee at the Dwight Davis Tennis Center at 1 p.m. (CST). To advance to the third round on Saturday, the Owls will have to get past a Tigers team that took down Kenyon 6-3 when the teams met for another neutral-site match in California back on March 12. Sewanee advanced to the second round on the strength of a 5-0 sweep over Concordia University Wisconsin.

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