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Women's tennis earns opening day split at Midwest Invite

Emma Alsup  |  Photo by Curt Ashcraft
Emma Alsup | Photo by Curt Ashcraft

MADISON, Wis.--  No. 27 Denison women's tennis opened with a 6-3 victory over No. 33 Wisconsin-Whitewater on Friday before falling to No. 9 Chicago 8-1 on the first day of action at the 2019 Midwest Invitational held in Madison, Wis.

Falling to an early 2-1 deficit in doubles play, Denison's No. 1 doubles team of Lauren Hawley and Emma Alsup defeated Gabi Kitchell and Julie Martin 8-5 to pick up the Big Red's first point of the match.  The win marked a victory over the nation's 18th ranked doubles pair from Whitewater.

In singles play, it took a pair of three-set wins by Ashley Hammons at No. 6 and Alex Cash at No. 3 to pull out the victory.  Cash topped Paige Nierman 2-6, 6-3, 12-10 to notch her fifth win this season out of the third flight.

At No. 6, Hammons took the first set 6-1 but Jessica Minkov tied things up with a 6-4 win in the second.  In the third set, Hammons took the match with a 10-7 victory in the third.

At second singles, Alsup made short work of Julie Martin, 6-1, 6-0 and Megan Hickey posted a straight-set win over Elise Ha, 6-2, 6-4.

In the semifinal matchup with ninth-ranked Chicago, the Big Red battled it out with the Maroons in the top two flights of doubles. In No. 1 action, Hawley and Alsup dropped an 8-7 (2) tiebreaker to Catherine Xu and Eugenia Lee. Chicago also grabbed a tiebreaker victory in No. 2 doubles as Cash and Hannah Cianciola fell to Lauren Park and Marjorie Antohi, 8-7 (3).

Lainey Axell and Nicole Semenov gave the Maroons a 3-0 lead entering singles play following an 8-2 win over Hickey and Hammons.

In singles play, Hawley suffered a 6-2, 6-4 loss to Antohi in the top flight while Xu defeated Alsup, 6-3, 6-4, in No. 2 singles.

Trailing 6-0, the Big Red garnered their lone victory of the match in No. 4 singles when Cianciola took down Lee in three sets, 6-1, 1-6, 10-7, but the Maroons captured the 8-1 win to move on to the finals of the Midwest Invitational.

The Big Red will move on to play 16th-ranked Washington University (St. Louis) on Saturday, April 6 at 10:30 a.m. CDT.