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Muhlenberg College

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

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women’s tennis knows ins and outs
of playoff match

Ask the members of the Muhlenberg women’s tennis whether they prefer playing indoors or outdoors, and they would probably agree that ultimately it doesn’t matter – they just want to play.

The Mules got to compete both indoors and outdoors in their Centennial Conference playoff match against Haverford, and because they performed so well, they will get to keep playing.

Muhlenberg (10-5) defeated the Fords, 5-0, for its first
Lindsay Schmidt and Danielle Winston
The win for Schmidt (left) and Winston (right) was their school-record 38th together in spring dual matches.
postseason win since 1991. The Mules advance to the CC semifinals to take on top-seeded Johns Hopkins on Saturday.

As close as an hour before match time, the teams were planning to play outdoors. But a brief, potent shower drenched the Kern Field Courts and forced the teams into John Deitrich Field House, where they had faced off three weeks earlier.

The doubles matches followed a very similar storyline as in regular-season meeting, only with different outcomes. The No. 3 doubles team of freshmen Nina Sanders and Emily Szulman won decisively again (8-0 the first time, 8-2 this time). The top two doubles teams – seniors Danielle Winston and Lindsay Schmidt at No. 2 and senior Caitie Druker and Sara Sutker – both engaged in tight, competitive matches.

At No. 2, Winston and Schmidt broke serve at 2-1 and held on the rest of the way for an 8-6 win that avenged a 9-8 (9-7) loss to the same duo in the regular season.

“During that match, we weren’t playing good tennis and we still went to a tiebreaker,” said Schmidt. “We knew that if we served well and moved at the net we’d have a good chance to win. It still was a close match – they’re very good – but we found a way to play our game and beat them.”

Druker and Sutker lost to a Ford duo 8-6 in the first meeting. This time
Nina Sanders
Sanders has an impressive 8-4 singles record this spring, including a 7-2 mark in the tough Centennial Conference.
they won by the same score, breaking serve late in the back-and-forth match, then staying strong after Haverford saved three match points.

“We practiced a lot of doubles to make sure we went into singles at least up 2-1,” said Schmidt. “When we got all three, it was great momentum going into singles. It helped everyone play looser, and more relaxed.”

It showed. The outdoor courts had dried up while the teams were playing doubles, so they returned to Kern Field for the singles matches, where the Mules were dominant. By conference rule, the match was played to decision, meaning all matches were stopped once one team reached five points.

Schmidt was impressive in a 6-0, 6-1 win at No. 5, and Sanders polished off the playoff win with a 6-1, 6-1 victory at No. 3. Of the other four matches on the court, Druker won her first set 6-4; Sutker led 6-1, 5-0; Szulman led 6-1, 4-2; and Winston was at 5-4 in the first set.

“It was funny, because I went into it not thinking that I would be one of the ones to finish,” said Schmidt. “But when I was up 4-1 in the second set, I was like, ‘you’ve got to hurry up,’ because other people were close to finishing. I usually try not to rush off the court, but it felt good to finish my match and get another win.”

It was also another win for the Mules, giving them double digits in victories for the seventh time in 11 years. The next win will be a little tougher to come by, as four-time defending CC champion Johns Hopkins is ranked ninth in the country and has yet to lose to a Division III opponent this season. The Blue Jays have a 50-match CC winning streak and beat Muhlenberg, 7-2, in the regular season.

“I think it’s going to be really good competition,” said Schmidt. “We’re going to try to play our best tennis and see if we can beat them.”
Click here for box score.

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