The SMC women's tennis team won the first West Coast Conference Championship in school history on April 25 after beating No. 2 seeded Pepperdine, 4–1 in San Diego. The Gaels, who were seeded No. 1, won an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament in late May.
The Gaels got to the championship match after sweeping Loyola Marymount (4–0) and Santa Clara (4–0). They won their last 10 matches.
"Each of our players put in a lot of time and effort on and off the court tackling weaknesses in their mental and physical games and overcoming adversity," head coach Lisa Alipaz said. "Their individual efforts and personal sacrifices, collectively, led to a stronger team performance."
In the WCC championship, the Gaels got the day started with wins in doubles. Alita Fisher (who also played on SMC's volleyball team in that sport's NCAA Tournament last year) and Neinke Strijbis won 8–5. Catherine Isip and Anna Chikhikvishvili followed with an 8–4 victory over their opponents.
In singles, Claire Soper won the first victory 6–4, 6–4 against her opponent, followed by Molly Aloia with 7–6, 6–4 wins. Alex Poorta clinched the Gaels victory with a 7–5, 6–4 win.
During the season, the women's tennis team compiled a 14–6 overall record, with a perfect 6–0 mark in WCC play. Their tough schedule included 10 matches against ranked opponents. Before the WCC Tournament, the Gaels were ranked No. 38 in the country, but they had suffered some setbacks along the way.
"We had some fairly significant injuries to deal with going into the final stretch of the season," Alipaz said. "In the end, dealing with the little things made us tougher."
The NCAA Tournament begins on May 20 at the University of Georgia in Athens.
"We are ready to play more and keep our season going," Alipaz said. "We couldn't be more excited. Our expectations are the same as they have been all year: to compete hard, be positive and stay in the moment. If we do that, good things will happen."
See SMCGaels.com for the latest on the team.