Division III women's tennis jinx stays intact for one more year

O ne of the longest streaks in collegiate championship history continues, but it doesn't belong to any college or university.

Instead, it belongs to the National Collegiate Athletic Association. In sixteen years of women's Division III team tennis championship competition, no institution has been able to claim back-to-back titles.

That streak extended to seventeen years when Skidmore College pinned a 5-1 loss on defending national champion Kenyon in the 1998 title match at Washington and Lee University. The Ladies, who entered the tournament seeded second, were playing in the title match for the seventh time in the past eleven years.

This time, though, it was all about Skidmore, which was making its first showing in the championship showdown. Skidmore defeated Luther College, Emory University, and Amherst College to get into the title match against Kenyon, which won the national title in 1993, 1995, and 1997.

Competition was fierce from the start, but Skidmore managed to outlast Kenyon in two of the three doubles matches to take the early lead. Junior Erin Hockman and sophomore Caryn Cuthbert were the only Ladies to emerge victorious for Kenyon, pulling out an 8-6 win over Jamie Levine and Inke Noel at the first position.

Senior Ladies Renee Brown and Ali St. Vincent battled back in a tight match with Lisa Powers and Heather Wood in the second position but dropped a 9-8 (4) decision. Skidmore's Sam Brophy and Ann Gruber posted an 8-3 win over Kenyon senior Codi Scarbrough and first-year Lady Nan Sagooleim at the third spot.

Kenyon tried to regroup in singles but could not get momentum to bounce its way, with Skidmore sweeping three matches to end the competition. Cuthbert fell 6-3, 6-1 to Levine at the first position, St. Vincent dropped a 6-3, 6-2 decision to Noel at number two, and Hockman fell 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 to Gruber at the third spot.

The Ladies were playing in the national title match for the fifth time in the past seven years. The Kenyon team also finished as national runners-up in 1988, 1989, and 1992. The Ladies took third place in 1996.