The University of Redlands women's tennis team battled through a rollercoaster season that resulted in an 8-12 overall record and a 4-3 mark in Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) action for fourth place in the standings. The Bulldogs showed heart and skill on the tennis courts and impressed with academic achievement in the classroom, as they grew exponentially as a cohesive unit throughout the year.
During the fall portion of the campaign, Redlands gained impressive results from the younger crowd, as sophomore Karen Kobayashi (Sappora, Japan) and first-year Mia Fitzgerald (Kauai, HI) won the doubles consolation bracket of Flight A at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Fall West Regional Championships. In addition, Fitzgerald made her Bulldog debut a memorable one by advancing to the final of the consolation bracket of the singles draw.
In February, the Maroon and Gray faced a formidable slate right out of the gate and suffered two exhibition defeats and a pair of regular-season losses. Redlands jumped into the win column for the first time on February 23 when it cruised to a 9-0 victory over conference opponent, Occidental College. After sweeping the doubles, the Bulldogs saw junior Jackie Lacy (Palm Desert, CA) make quick work of her No. 2 foe in a 6-2, 6-0 effort before Kobayashi officially put this one in the books with a 6-2, 6-1 triumph at No. 4.
After another challenging exhibition match, the Maroon and Gray began the month of March on a high note with a hard-fought, 6-3 win over Rhodes College (TN). With a 2-1 lead through the doubles, Redlands extended its advantage with solid play at Nos. 3 and 4, which set up first-year Danya Wallis' (Poulsbo, WA) deciding point at No. 6 with a 6-2, 6-2 performance.
Unfortunately, the rest of the month proved to be incredibly challenging, as the Bulldogs dropped seven matches to nationally-ranked opponents, including three by a gut-wrenching score of 4-5.
However, the Maroon and Gray mustered resounding wins over the University of Rochester (NY) and Haverford College (PA) during this stretch. Against the other U of R, Redlands rode the momentum of another doubles sweep that began with an 8-4 win at No. 1 by senior Elizabeth Johnson (Portland, OR) and first-year Halle Martinucci (Burlingame, CA). Fitzgerald and senior Kate Dolan (St. Louis, MO) followed suit with an 8-3 triumph on court three, while Kobayashi and Lacy completed the 3-0 lead by securing another 8-3 triumph. After Martinucci dominated her singles opponent at No. 5, Dolan put this match away with a 6-2, 6-0 showing at No. 6. It was much the same against Haverford, as the Bulldogs won in straight sets all around for a 9-0 victory. One impressive highlight was Johnson's thrashing of her No. 1 counterpart by scores of 6-0, 6-0.
Beginning with a 6-3 win over Gustavus Adolphus College (MN), Redlands turned the month of April into a strong finish to the regular season. After earning a 2-1 advantage in doubles, Redlands went on to showcase the team's depth in singles by recording wins at Nos. 3, 4, 5, and 6. Dolan set the tone with her 6-1, 6-3 effort at No. 6, while Martinucci rallied back for a 6-1, 3-6, 6-0 result at No. 5. Kobayashi sealed the deal for the Maroon and Gray with her 7-6(3), 6-3 triumph on court three, as sophomore Lexi Lehman (Scottsdale, AZ) prevailed in comeback fashion at No. 4, 7-5, 3-6, 7-6(2).
The tenacious squad went on to defeat three SCIAC opponents to close out the lucrative month. First up, Redlands topped the Cal Lutheran University Regals in a 6-3 decision, with Kobayashi providing another clincher at No. 3 for her 10th singles win of the season. Against Whittier College and Chapman University, the Bulldogs combined for a lopsided score of 17-1. Senior Madison Ross (San Diego, CA) captured the deciding point against the Poets by blanking her No. 6 opponent. Redlands faced a must-win situation against the Panthers to secure its place at the SCIAC Postseason Tournament. Another doubles sweep created plenty of momentum for the Bulldogs, as Lehman and Martinucci then cruised to 6-2, 6-1 singles results for the Maroon and Gray's win.
Upon conclusion of the regular season, Johnson and Lacy each landed on the All-SCIAC teams for the first times in their respective careers. Johnson, a First-Teamer, shored up the No. 1 slot in singles and joined forces with Martinucci as a formidable doubles duo at the top of the lineup. Lacy, who was named to the Second Team, primarily competed at No. 2 singles and teamed up with Kobayashi at No. 2 doubles.
The Bulldogs made back-to-back appearances at the SCIAC Postseason Tournament and faced Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges in this year's semifinal. Despite the loss, Redlands saw Kobayashi and Lacy claw their way back for an admirable, 8-7(6) victory over the No. 2 doubles team.
In the classroom, the Bulldog women's tennis team also shined, with four individual Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) All-Academic Scholar-Athletes and the squad's seventh consecutive year as an ITA All-Academic Team.
With skill and dedication, the 2018-19 Redlands women's tennis team took on a formidable schedule of always-improving foes, both in and out of the SCIAC. Although the loss of the senior class is significant, the Bulldogs hold high hopes for continued success with a talented crew of returning competitors leading the charge.