From start to finish, there was never a doubt.
In its first season as a member of the Great Midwest Athletic Conference, the Hillsdale College women's tennis team completed an undefeated run through the league, culminating in capturing the 2018 G-MAC Women's Tennis Tournament championship Saturday afternoon in Owensboro, Kentucky. Hillsdale earned the trophy thanks to a 5-1 win over Walsh University in the championship match.
This is the second conference championship in program history, and first since 1983. It is also the fifth G-MAC championship won by a Hillsdale College athletic program during the 2017-18 school year.
This is the story of a talented team with no seniors that rose to the challenge of playing in a new conference. A story of a team built on hard work, talent and depth that took nothing for granted, stayed focused, and was rewarded with their rings by spring.
Thanks to this win, Hillsdale (14-4) will receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Division II Midwest Regional tournament for the first time in school history. The Chargers were already ranked sixth in the region, but this tournament championship gives Hillsdale the G-MAC's auto-qualifying bid for the postseason.
The title-clinching victory was secured by junior Madeline Bissett, who won a 6-2, 6-1 decision at No. 6 singles. Bissett's win was the fifth by Hillsdale, thus mathematically clinching the victory over the Cavaliers.
The Chargers took a 2-1 lead after doubles play thanks to wins by Bell and Corinne Prost at No. 2 singles (8-0) and by Bissett and Matthews at No. 3 singles (8-0).
The other matches went unfinished because Hillsdale had an insurmountable lead after Bissett's singles victory.
Hillsdale marched through the regular season 7-0 in the G-MAC, and of a possible 63 individual matches contested in the regular season, the Chargers won 61 of them. Walsh was also unbeaten in conference play heading into the final weekend of the regular season, but Hillsdale beat the Cavs to clinch both the regular season championship as well as Saturday's conference tournament title.