Eph junior Cary Gibson and sophomore Grace Baljon made some
Williams women's tennis history today at the NCAA Singles
Tournament by becoming the first two Ephs to qualify for the
semifinal round in the same year. Previously the Ephs had two
players reach the semifinal round in Caroline Wasserman and Steph
Hall, but not in the same year.
"We're making history here and it's fun," said an enthused Williams head coach Alison Swain. "Both Cary and Grace are very focused and they're motivated to be out there together."
Gibson defeated Amherst's Brittany Berckes in the quarterfinals 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 to advance to the semifinal round vs. Megan McCooey of Tufts.
Against Berckes Gibson followed a recent pattern of dropping the first set and then storming back to win sets two and three. Gibson is aware that it is permissible to win in straight sets and eliminate the suspense. "Yeah, it's not the way most people would plan to win, but I had fun and it worked out. It's always fun to play Brittany [Berckes] because she hits the ball hard, which is good for me. I was just playing to have fun and wait for the momentum to change, which it did."
The win upped Gibson's season record to 22-7 and matched her up with Tufts' Megan McCooey in the semifinals.
Grace Baljon (34-1) took out Washington & Lee's Lauren Caire in straight sets by winning the first set 7-6 (7-1), 6-4. Caire finished the season with just three losses and all three of those came at the hands of Ephs with Baljon winning two and Ashley Parsons winnng once.
Baljon's win over Caire boosted her into a semifinal match up with top seeded Siobahn Finicane of Pomona-Pitzer.
McCooey was a surprise entrant in the quarterfinals as she had to defeat number two seed Katie Tabb of Washington & Lee in her first match of the tourney. Gibson showed she understands the concept of winning in straight sets however eliminating McCooey 6-3, 6-2. Gibson's win makes her the first Eph to advance to the finals of the NCAA Singles Tournament and improved her record to 23-7.
Grace Baljon came up short in her bid to join Cary Gibson in the finals when she fell to Siobahn Finicane in straight sets 6-4, 6-0. Baljon finished the year with an impressive 34-2 record, which may is believed to be a Williams single season best for wins in a year. Both of Baljon's losses this academic year came at the hands of the two players who will play for the NCAA title tomorrow.
Baljon lost to Cary Gibson in the finals of the ITA New England Tournament last fall and had not lost in eight months until today.
The final between Gibson and Finicane will be webstreamed on the Gustavus Adolphus website tomorrow beginning at 12:00 pm CST.