After sweeping the 2017 North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) Championships, the Lords and Ladies tennis teams prolonged their reigns as the conference’s most accomplished programs. Since the start of championship play in 1985, the Lords’ total of 20 NCAC titles leads all conference teams, while the Ladies’ tally of 16 titles ranks first in the women’s count.
Even with all that success, the tandem titles this season marked just the sixth time in the programs’ histories that the Lords and Ladies were crowned in the same season. In fact, it’s been 22 years since the last time it happened.
Coincidentally, the 2017 NCAC titles were both earned with victories over DePauw University in the championship matches. With those victories, the Lords and Ladies earned automatic berths in the NCAA Division III Championships, single-elimination tournaments with 43 teams in the men’s bracket and 49 in the women’s.
The Lords, who were making their 15th consecutive appearance in the NCAA Championship, earned a bye in the first round and then squared off against Kalamazoo College in a second-round match held in St. Louis, Missouri. The teams battled for more than five hours, with Kenyon eventually pulling out a 5-3 win.
Kenyon advanced to play host Washington University in St. Louis the next day. The Bears, ranked No. 4 in the nation, proved too powerful and eliminated the Lords, 5-1. The loss halted an eight-match winning streak for Kenyon and finalized the Lords’ record at 14-11.
Meanwhile, at the University of Chicago, the Ladies opened NCAA play with a resounding 5-0 thumping of the Barons from Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio. Even with a history that includes 19 appearances in the NCAA Championship, the Ladies’ win on the national stage was their first since 2008.
The Ladies remained in Chicago to face Gustavus Adolphus College in the second round of play. The Gusties pulled away early, taking two of the three doubles matches, only to have the Ladies respond by winning the top two singles matches. Gustavus Adolphus then bounced back to gain the necessary singles wins and ousted Kenyon by a 5-3 final.
That result brought a close to the 2017 campaign for the Ladies, who posted a 13-10 record. The team’s top player, Diana Aboubakare ’18, who owns a personal 16-10 record, will move on to participate in the 32-player NCAA Division III Singles Championship, which will be held May 25-27 in Chattanooga, Tennessee.