posted 2012-11-21 21:04:04

Women’s Tennis Team Wins CUNYAC Championship

Lady Hawks take home their 13th consecutive title 

Christian Davies

Sports Editor

On October 24th, the Hunter women’s tennis team won their 13th consecutive CUNYAC tournament championship, beating the College of Staten Island 5-1. In their first year under new coach Frances Ferdinand, the Hawks finished 12-3, including a nine-match winning streak to end their season.

Although the Hawks have plenty to celebrate, they won’t be able to put the season behind them just yet. The CUNYAC title gives them an automatic berth into the Division III NCAA Tournament, which takes place in May. In each of the last two seasons, the Hawks have lost heartbreakers in the second round of the NCAAs, and will again try to ride their CUNYAC momentum into the national tennis scene.

“The NCAA is definitely an intense season,” said sophomore Beth Chapnick. When asked what her team has to do to get past the second round this year, Chapnick said, “To get past the second round, we’re all going to work harder than we’ve ever worked before. Our team this year has a great dynamic and even better players. I think we could definitely make it. “
Whatever magic the Hawks have found within their own conference could certainly help them put together an NCAA run in May. The Hunter women have dominated CUNYAC play for more than two decades; their victory over CSI in this year’s final not only gave the Hawks their 13th consecutive title, but also marked their 23rd consecutive trip to the CUNYAC final, and was the Hawks’ 20th championship in the 27-year history of the tournament.

Junior Shena Joseph said that helping her team win this 13th straight title “means the world” to her. “This is my first year playing for Hunter,” Joseph continued. “It’s a great pleasure to work alongside my awesome teammates and be able to represent my school and myself.”

The team has certainly been playing at a high level during this most recent run. Of the nine straight matches they won to close out their year, six of them were shutouts.

In first round of the CUNYAC tournament, the No. 1 seeded Hawks took out No. 8 seed CCNY 5-0 behind strong doubles performances by the first doubles team of Joseph and junior Jane Selegean. Following Joseph and Selegean were sophomores Chapnick and Caroline Kaleda, who won as second doubles. After them, Hunter’s third doubles team, made up of freshman Angelina Usherenko and sophomore Stephanie Ahwireng, also won, giving the Hawks a 3-0 match lead heading into singles. In singles, Kaleda took down CCNY’s Tobi Ojo, 6-1, 6-1, and to close out the match for the Hawks, Joseph beat Katrina Bautista, 6-0, 6-1.
In the semifinals, the Hawks outlasted No. 4 seed Baruch to take the match, 5-3. But it wasn’t easy. Selegean and Joseph played together in first doubles, escaping a tough challenge from Baruch’s Patricia Correria and Amandine Le Goupil-Maier, winning the match 8-4. In second doubles, Ahwireng and Usherenko beat the Bearcats’ Anna Komar and Elizavette Glotova, 8-3. The Hawks then lost their first point of the day when the third doubles team of Kaleda and Chapnick lost 6-8 against Baruch’s Jennifer Mukofsky and Lisa Kurner. Immediately following Hunter’s loss in third doubles, Baruch took two straight matches in singles with Baruch’s Komar and Mukofsky taking wins over Hunter’s Kaleda and Yeo. The Hawks found themselves with their backs to the wall, trailing Baruch 2-3.
After having won forty-three consecutive points over the span of seven matches, the Hawks finally looked beatable. But the Hawks did what they’ve done all year: they responded to the pressure and came back even stronger. Usherenko came out to win an impressive 6-1, 6-1 match for the Hawks, while Selegean and Ahwireng finally closed out Baruch with tough wins in the last two singles matches.

Having survived the challenge from Baruch, Hunter came into the CUNYAC finals tested and ready. When asked what they would have to do to beat CSI in the finals, Chapnick said her team would “have to realize that we’ve all put way too much into this season to lose a single point in the finals. We’ve worked harder than any other team and we want it more.”

Chapnick’s teammates certainly followed that lead, taking home the CUNYAC crown with an impressive 5-1 victory over the Dolphins. Hunter’s only blemish on the day was a tough loss in second doubles, where Chapnick and Kaleda ran into CSI’s CUNYAC Rookie of the Year Mediha Mulla, and her teammate Sabrina Bragerton-Nasert, who won the match 8-0. But after that loss, the Hawks found their footing and swept CSI throughout the rest of the day, etching their spot in Division III history, proving for yet another year that they are the best of the best in the CUNYAC.