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Trailblazers Women’s Tennis Sweeps to Nationals

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GODFREY – The Lewis and Clark Community College women’s tennis team swept Rend Lake College 9-0 to win the Region 24 Championship Saturday and earn a fifth consecutive trip to the NJCAA National Championship tournament next month. 

The 9-0 victory on April 16 at home at the Andy Simpson Tennis Complex gives the Trailblazers a perfect 36-0 record in the Region. The women shut out Kaskaskia College twice and Rend Lake once in regular season region play to give the Trailblazers the home court advantage in the finals.

The match of the day was at No. 3 singles with Trailblazers freshman Jane Grieser (Springfield, Illinois) battling Ashley West of Rend Lake.  The two had a three-set battle earlier in the season that Grieser won 3-6, 6-4, 11-9.

West won the first set on Saturday 6-1, but Grieser came storming back to take the second set 6-0.  The third set, played as a 10-point super-tiebreaker, was close, with Grieser serving at 6-6 after the side change. After one of the longest points of the day, if not the year, she took a 7-6 lead and then proceeded to run the table for the 10-6 win.

“The women’s played very well on Saturday,” said L&C Head Coach Jim Hunstein. “Several players weren’t at 100 percent with a variety of ailments. In fact, if we had to play even three or four days ago, there’s no telling how we’d have finished.”

Several players missed practice time earlier in the week leading up to Regionals. Sophomore Mel Schlaeger (Hanau, Germany) rolled her ankle on Monday, the same day freshman Miranda Jackson (Jerseyville, Illinois) was diagnosed with walking pneumonia. Grieser struggled all week with lower back pain. 

As the big match approached, both sophomore Nikki Steiner (Troy, Illinois) and freshman Molly Stumpf (Alhambra, Illinois) sounded like they were coming down with something.  The only one truly healthy player was freshman Maddie Sweicicki (Maryville, Illinois) and it showed on Saturday. She only lost two games all day. 

“Fortunately, we have some time to get healthy before heading to Nationals,” Hunstein said.  “But we still have a couple big tests looming.”

The women have no matches scheduled this week, but have two rescheduled matches against tough opponents next week. The Trailblazers will host Missouri Baptist University at Lewis and Clark at 4 p.m., Monday, April 25. Then, they will travel to Quincy University Wednesday, April 27, for a 1 p.m. start time.

“And the week after that, we’re off to Texas,” Hunstein said. “We like to play really good teams to get ready for the competition we’ll see at Nationals. So the timing of these rescheduled matches works out well.”

The 2016 NJCAA National Championship will be held May 7-12 at Tyler Junior College in Tyler, Texas.  Last year, the women’s team finished tied for 22nd at the NJCAA National Championship held in Tucson, Arizona.

BOX SCORES, Saturday, April 16, versus Rend Lake

Flight 1 Doubles  
Mel Schlaeger/Nikki Steiner (LC) def. Jade Knox/Ashley West (RL), 8-2
Flight 2 Doubles
Jane Grieser/Maddie Swiecicki (LC) def.  Katie Titzen/Kylee Combs (RL), 8-0
Flight 3 Doubles
Miranda Jackson/Molly Stumpf (LC) def. Emily Culbreth/Mykennah Allen (RL), 8-4
Flight 1 Singles
Mel Schlaeger (LC) def. Jade Knox (RL), 6-0, 6-3
Flight 2 Singles
Nikki Steiner (LC) def. Katie Titzen (RL), 6-3, 6-1
Flight 3 Singles
Jane Grieser (LC) def. Ashley West (RL), 1-6, 6-0, 10-6
Flight 4 Singles
Maddie Swiecicki (LC) def. Kylee Combs (RL), 6-0, 6-2
Flight 5 Singles
Miranda Jackson (LC) def. Emily Culbreth (RL), 6-1, 6-2
Flight 6 Singles
Molly Stumpf (LC) def. Mykennah Allen (RL), 6-2, 6-4