GODFREY – The Trailblazers women’s tennis team finished the 2013-2014 season tied with Laredo Community College for No. 20 in the nation during the NJCAA D-I National Championship Tournament at Tyler Junior College in Tyler, Texas.
This is the second year in a row the team improved in national ranking — finishing No. 22 in 2013 and No. 26 in 2012.
“My goal for the team was a top 20 spot,” Head Coach Jim Hunstein said. “We made it. Now we need to set our sights higher.”
Sophomore Rachel Allard, of Troy, Illinois, made it to the semis of the flight two singles consolation before losing 5-8 to Sarah Giraldo of Cowley College.
Allard teamed with Lewis and Clark freshman Taylor Stevenson, also of Troy, to advance to the semis of the flight two doubles consolation before losing 3-8 to McKenna Nelson and Loni Karras of Eastern Arizona College.
Stevenson made it the quarters of the flight 4 singles consolation before losing 6-8 to Carolina Hernandez of Jacksonville College.
Freshmen Claire Morrissey, of Godfrey, and Luisa Gonzalez, of Solingen, Germany, advanced to the quarters of the flight one doubles consolation, where they lost 4-8 to Amy Beeston and Cayla Cordova of Pima College.
“I am very proud of the efforts the women showed at nationals,” Hunstein said. “They finished their season as regional champions, and to finish in the top 20 at nationals is pretty remarkable and a credit to their hard work.”
There were 31 schools playing in the national tournament with Lewis and Clark as the sole representative of Region 24.
The Trailblazers finished ahead of all four community colleges from Region 4, which covers northern Illinois and Chicago area, including Elgin Community College and Moraine Valley Community College, whose teams tied for No. 23, Illinois Valley Community College, whose team finished No. 28, and Waubonsee Community College, whose team finished at No. 31.
Hunstein said he already has plans for next year.
“My goal is to keep improving and finish in the high teens,” he said. “I’m going to try to expand our schedule and play some of the teams from Chicago and Kansas, our nearest competition outside our own region. If we keep playing tougher and tougher competition, it will only make us better in the long run.”