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Kassaie makes program history at 2023 NCAA tournament

Women’s Tennis – Postseason Recap
Courtesy of CWRU Athletics
Second-year Hannah Kassaie fights valiantly during her quarterfinal match, but falls short to Babson University’s Olivia Soffer.

The Case Western Reserve University women’s tennis team built on last year’s historic season, reaching the NCAA tournament in April. The Spartans finished the regular season with an overall 15-6 record, including nine sweeps.

Seeded fourth at the UAA Championships, the Spartans kicked off the tournament against New York University in the quarterfinals but fell 5-3 after dropping four matches in singles play. CWRU bounced back against the University of Rochester 5-0 to set up a 5th place match against Carnegie Mellon University. Unfortunately, the Spartans were overpowered 5-1, their only win coming in first doubles from second-years Hannah Kassaie and Lily McCloskey.

13th-ranked CWRU earned a berth in the NCAA tournament for the second time ever with hopes of surpassing last year’s run in the Round of 16. 

“This opportunity to compete at [the] NCAA is really special, to have another historic season means a lot,” said Head Coach Kirsten Gambrell McMahon. “It’s a long season in college tennis, you really go the entire school year and it really is a long grind, so to be able to have consistent results throughout the year and make this tournament definitely is very special to us.”

The Spartans traveled to Lexington, VA and sailed through their opening match against Transylvania University 5-0. In the second round, CWRU faced 12th-ranked Sewanee University, a matchup that proved to be as evenly matched as the schools’ respective rankings. After a thrilling back-and-forth, the Spartans eventually lost 5-4 to bring the team competition to a close.

CWRU’s prime doubles duo Kassaie/McCloskey was seeded second for the doubles championship but was upset 4-6, 4-6 by Sewanee’s top unseeded tandem. Kassaie/McCloskey finished the season with a 21-6 doubles record.

In individual play, Kassaie rewrote CWRU’s history books, defeating Katherine Orgielewicz of Williams College 6-1, 6-1 to become the first women’s tennis player to reach the singles quarterfinals. Her singles run ended in the quarterfinals after losing in three sets to Babson University’s Olivia Soffer. Kassaie recorded a singles record of 21-3, the second-most single season wins in program history.    

The Spartans earned numerous honors in the final weeks of the postseason, which are listed below:

College Sports Communicators Academic All-District Team – Pallavi Goculdas, Hannah Kassaie, Lily McCloskey, and Radha Patel

All-UAA Honors – Hannah Kassaie (First Team singles and doubles), Lily McCloskey (First Team doubles and Second Team singles), Radha Patel (Second Team doubles), and Katalina Wang (Second Team doubles)

NCAA DIII Elite 90 Award – Hannah Kassaie

ITA Division III Central Region Arthur Ashe Leadership & Sportsmanship Award – Pallavi Goculdas

College Sports Communicators Academic All-America Team – Lily McCloskey (First Team) and Hannah Kassaie (First Team)

College Sports Communicators Division III Academic All-America Team Member of the Year – Hannah Kassaie

ITA All-Academic Team – Nina Hoog, Shreya Ramani, Pallavi Goculdas, Caitlyn Hsu, Chloe Ku, Katherine Wang, Hannah Kassaie, Lily McCloskey, Radha Patel, Ellior Rose, Asha Shukla, Elsa Syed, and Katalina Wang

The team will begin their fall 2023 season in Gambier, Ohio at the Kenyon Invitational on Sept. 9-10. A week later, the Spartans will participate in the Denison Invitational in Granville, Ohio. From Sept. 22-24, the team will compete in the ITA Regional Championships in St. Louis.

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About the Contributor
Puneet Bansal
Puneet Bansal, Sports Editor
Puneet Bansal (she/her) is a fourth-year student majoring in biochemistry and medical anthropology. She loves obsessing over food, spending time outdoors or annoying her friends. Hailing from the Bay Area, she is an ardent Golden State Warriors fan and finds it daunting to sport her Stephen Curry jersey around Cleveland.

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