Top-seeded Panthers look for fifth conference tournament title in six years

Cami Jones


HANOVER, Ind. – Fresh off its sixth straight Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference regular season title, the Hanover women's tennis will go for the tournament championship this weekend.

TOURNAMENT INFO: Six teams will bid for the conference tournament crown and the automatic bid into the NCAA Division III National Tournament, with opening round action getting underway at 4 p.m. Friday, Oct. 19. Hanover will open tournament play in the semifinal round, which will take place at 1 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 20. The championship match will then follow at 10 a.m., Sunday, Oct. 21. Each tournament match will be played in Indianapolis at West Indy Racquet Club, which features indoor and outdoor courts.

The seeding for this weekend's event is as followed; No. 1 Hanover, No. 2 Transylvania, No. 3 Franklin, No. 4 Anderson, No. 5 Rose-Hulman, No. 6 Earlham. The Panthers will face the winner of the Anderson and Rose-Hulman match in the semifinals, on the indoor courts.

WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS: With three wins last week, including two on Saturday, Oct. 13, the Panthers captured their sixth consecutive regular season conference championship. The Blue and Red defeated Mt. St. Joseph, Defiance and Manchester all by a count of 9-0 to receive the hardware. Hanover's three victories also extends its current HCAC regular season win streak to next fall, which will resume with 48 straight wins. A conference tournament title is next on the list for HC, a championship they are in search of securing for the fifth time in the past six years. The Panthers have at least been in the championship match each of the past five seasons.

SENIORS SHINING: It has been a stellar four years for seniors Ruth Gaston (Indianapolis, Ind.) and Susie Winternheimer (Indianapolis, Ind.) and the duo helped guide the Panthers to the regular season title again this fall. Gaston, who received the HCAC's final player of the week award on Monday, is a perfect 9-0 in singles competition this season, including an 8-0 mark in conference play. For her career, Gaston is 19-5 in singles matches. To go along with her strong singles play, the senior is 8-1 overall and 7-0 in the HCAC during doubles matches.

Winternheimer is the active career singles leader in wins for the Blue and Red, as she has a career mark of 38-27. This fall, the senior is 5-2 overall and 5-1 in HCAC competition. Winternheimer has also paired with junior Meghan Farrell (Indianapolis, Ind.) in doubles action, as the duo has gone 5-3 overall, which includes a 3-3 HCAC mark.

CAMI CONTROLS COMPETITION: The No. 1 singles slot has been held down by Cami Jones (Richmond, Ind.) all season long, as the junior is 9-0 overall and 7-0 in HCAC competition. All of Jones' singles wins have come in straight sets, with her conceding two or fewer games in 12 frames. Doubles play has also seen Jones pair with sophomores Haley Parker (Leo, Ind.) and Addison Laker (Indianapolis, Ind.) in the top two spots for an 8-0 overall and a 7-0 conference mark.

HANOVER BY THE NUMBERS: The Panthers boast a perfect 10-0 record to start the 2018-19 campaign, which is tied for the second longest season-opening streak in program history. Hanover can break the record with two wins this weekend, making it 12 straight victories to open the slate. The Blue and Red also produced an unblemished 8-0 conference mark this fall, its sixth straight season with an unbeaten HCAC record.

In singles play, HC is 54-5 (.915), which includes a 45-2 (.957) mark in conference action. Doubles competition has seen similar success for the Blue and Red, as they have gone 26-4 overall (.867) and 21-3 (.875) in conference matches. Overall, HC is a combined 80-9 (.899) in singles and doubles play and 66-5 (.930) against HCAC foes.

SCOUTING THE FIELD: The Nos. 2-4 seeds – Transy (6-5), Franklin (7-2) and Anderson (7-4) – all posted 6-2 conference records this fall. Rose-Hulman enters Friday 4-7 overall with a 4-4 conference mark, while Earlham is 6-7 overall and 3-5 in the HCAC. Against all five opponents, Hanover conceded three games or fewer, including a 9-0 home win over Anderson and a 6-3 triumph at Rose-Hulman. The Panthers added an 8-1 road win at Transy and home wins over Franklin and Earlham, 7-1 and 9-0, respectively.

Contact: Tyler Jester