Photo courtesy of coach Jim Hunstein
Lewis and Clark Community College women's tennis team poses with the NJCAA Division III Region 24 trophy after winning a return trip to nationals on Saturday, April 19, at the Andy Simpson Tennis Complex. The Trailblazers defeated Kaskaskia on Friday and Rend Lake on Saturday. Bottom row, from left, Taylor Stevenson, Rachel Allard and Josie Masinelli; top row, from left, Claire Morrissey, Jenna Bechtold, Luisa Gonzales and Maria Rodriguez.
GODFREY – The Lewis and Clark Community College women’s tennis team earned a return trip to the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division III National Championship Tournament Saturday with an 8-1 regional win against Rend Lake College at the Andy Simpson Tennis Complex.
The NJCAA National Championship will be May 3-9 at Tyler Junior College in Tyler, Texas.
This is the team’s third straight NJCAA Region 24 title and ninth in the last 11 years. Last year, the women finished No. 22 in the country and in 2012 they finished No. 26.
The Trailblazers finished the regular season second to Rend Lake in the Region 24 standings and ahead of Kaskaskia College. The two teams split their two regular season matches, but Rend Lake had the better record with two victories over Kaskaskia.
Both of the Lewis and Clark-Kaskaskia matches were rained out this spring. The women’s team lost to Rend Lake 6-3 on the Tuesday before the tournament, but then had 9-0 sweeps against Greenville College on Wednesday and Kaskaskia on Friday in the semifinals.
“We really played well leading up to the finals,” head coach Jim Hunstein said. “With all the rain we’ve had this season, it’s been hard to get match tough. We got there just in time.”
The Trailblazers still have a few regular and make-up matches before heading to Texas.
“We should be able to crack the top 20 at nationals this year,” Hunstein said. “Each individual match we win counts toward our team’s total. Last year, we were only a couple of wins away from the top 20, and I’m confident we will improve this year.”