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Resilient Panthers Fight Way to 2019 Title

Resilient Panthers Fight Way to 2019 Title

The resilient Principia College women's tennis fought their way to a 2019 St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championship on Saturday, defeating Greenville University 5-4. It marked the second straight day that Principia fought their way back to a win after being down after doubles action. On Friday, in the semifinals against Webster, Principia was down 4-2 before taking the final three singles matches to claim victory. On Saturday the Panthers were down 2-1 after doubles and faced a winner take all battle at #4 singles.

Greenville took both the #2 and #3 doubles to grab the early lead in the team score. The doubles team of Bailey Pearce and Emma Wieland and Annie Bellinger and Maddi Walsh scored points for Greenville as they headed into singles play against Principia. 

The lone doubles point for Principia came as the #1 team of Paige Cooley and Gabby Kitchingman won 8-4. Cooley quickly evened the team score up with a 6-0, 6-0 win at #1 singles. Principia continued their momentum with a 7-5, 6-2 win by Kitchingman at #2 singles. 

Greenville meanwhile answered right back with wins at #5 and #6 singles from Bellinger and Samantha Siefken to make the score 4-4, forcing a winner take all match at the #4 singles spot. 

With all eyes on Principia's Hallie Jones and Greenville's Courtney Blaser, the two players did not disappoint the fans. Blaser jumped out to a 6-3 win in the opening set, bringing Greenville to within one set of the program's first-ever SLIAC Championship.

However, Hallie Jones fought back in the second set for a 7-5 win, pushing the match to a third and decisive set. Jones opened up with a quick 4-0 lead but Blaser's long game of keeping Jones scampering back and forth on the court paid off as Blaser broke serve to tally her first point of the set. Blaser held serve to push the score to 4-2 but Jones' power shined. 

Jones hit a strong serve and off the return put a deep baseline shot that bounced high above Blaser for a 5-2 lead. Blaser fought her way through the next set, after being down 30-40, forced the set into deuce on three occasions before outlasting Jones and closing the set score to 5-4. 

But Jones' power would once again rise up, hitting three winners in the final set of the match to bring Principia within one point of the win. The match would not end quickly though as Jones' constant running over the court, caught up with her and led to a medical timeout for cramping. After the timeout, Jones limped her way to the baseline to return the serve where the two would go an 11 shot rally before a ball into the net ended the match with Principia dogpiling the exhausted Jones, a 6-4 set winner. 

Principia has now won the SLIAC Tournament a conference record 21 times in program history. In other matches on the day Webster University defeated Westminster College 5-3 in the 3rd place match and Blackburn College defeated Fontbonne University 5-0 in the 5th place match.

- #SLIACtion -