Julie Berman had the dubious distinction of being the only UC San Diego women's tennis player to lose both her matches in the Tritons' first-round and semifinal victories in the National Collegiate Athletic Assn. Division III team championships at Claremont-Mudd College.
But Berman, a senior playing her last college match Wednesday in the final against Kenyon (Ohio) College, saved her best for last, and the Tritons went on to an 8-1 victory for their third women's tennis title since 1985.
"I thought Kenyon would be the team to beat because we lost to them, 5-4, last year in the semifinals, and they basically had the same team," said Liz LaPlante, UCSD coach.
The Tritons led, 3-1, after singles victories by Christine Behrens, Nancy Calhoun and Susan Carne. But Berman and Kristen Diels were trailing in the third set.
Berman was down, 4-2, but rallied to win the tiebreaker for an emotional 6-2, 4-6, 7-6 victory over Kathryn Lane.
"She wanted to win so badly," LaPlante said. "I'd never seen anyone so psyched up, and not because it was her last match but because she had lost both her (earlier) matches."
Diels then came back to defeat Stacy Bear, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 to clinch the UCSD athletic program's third national title of the season. Having locked up the title in singles, UCSD rolled through the three doubles matches.
Both teams entered the championship match with a chance to win their school's third national title this season. Kenyon won both men's and women's swimming titles. UCSD, which finished second to Kenyon in those meets, won championships in men's soccer and women's volleyball.
UCSD, the third-seeded team, defeated top-seeded Gustavus Adolphus, 5-4, and Kenyon upset No. 2 Pomona-Pitzer, 6-3, to reach the finals.
The 32-player singles and 16-team doubles tournaments start today.
The University of San Diego and San Diego State women's teams won first-round matches to advance in the NCAA Division I women's team tournament in Gainesville, Fla.
Behind the play of Jennifer Larking, who defeated the No. 2-ranked player in the nation, Stacey Martin, USD defeated Tennessee, 7-2. SDSU defeated William & Mary, 6-3, by splitting the singles matches and sweeping doubles.
In today's second round, USD (18-7) plays second-seeded host Florida (24-2). SDSU (17-9) faces top-seeded Stanford (23-0) for the third time this season. The Aztecs two previous losses to the Cardinal were 9-0 and 6-0.
USD, seeded 15th, took five of six singles matches from the 17th-seeded Volunteers. Larking, Aby Brayton, Tonya Fuller, Christine Schmeidel and Christy Drage won their matches.
Schmeidel (20-5) won easily, 6-0, 6-0, and Brayton won the clincher, defeating Wendy Ouwendijk, 1-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7-4), but Larking was most impressive in defeating Martin, 6-4, 6-4.
"Jen's a great player," said Sherri Stephens, USD's coach. "I've been saying it for a long time, and she's been playing like it for a long time. (Martin) may have a better record, but Jen's played against tougher competition."
Larking (18-8) said she knew very little about Martin (32-2), except for her record and ranking. "I like it that way. I can concentrate on playing my game rather than playing to hers," she said
SDSU, seeded 16th, got singles victories from Sondra Mitchell, Dorey Brandt and Jessica Buss. Brandt teamed with Kristin Hill, Buss with Mitchell and Susan Hawke with Claire Bateman for doubles victories.