By: Monique Bowman
ADA — To say that the Polar Bear women's tennis team had a remarkable 2010-11 season could be considered an understatement.
Notching a 2011 Ohio Athletic Conference Regular Season title and the runner-up spot in the OAC Tournament are notable accomplishments but at the hands of the youngest collegiate squad in the country makes those accomplishments a bit sweeter.
Under 10th-year head coach Scott Wills, two sophomores and seven freshmen posted a 21-5 overall record and a 9-0 league mark.
ONU started the fall portion of the season strong, showcasing what a young and fearless squad can do, going on a four-match winning streak, three of which were by 9-0 scores.
By the end of the fall season and into the spring break trip, the Polar Bears struggled, going 3-5 over eight matches. Those losses did include a few to a Division I and NAIA opponents, giving a young team an opportunity to gain valuable experience heading into the heart of conference action.
Northern seemingly cruised through conference competition, with its toughest matches coming against John Carroll in late March (which was a 5-4 win), and back-to-back battles against Baldwin-Wallace and Otterbein. Both of those matches were 6-3 victories.
Into the conference tournament, the Polar Bears handled Wilmington on their home court with a 5-0 win. The semifinal round at the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason would prove to be a bit tougher and more exciting.
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With the match and the chance to advance to the tournament final on the line, ONU was tied with Otterbein 4-4. The last match onto a court was No. 6 singles, pitting freshman Lauren Rife with Cardinal Angela Sammons.
Rife won the first set, 6-2 but dropped the next 2-6. In the deciding set and down 5-2 with little sunlight left, Rife battled back to win five-straight points for the 7-5 win, advancing the Polar Bears to the finals.
In the OAC Tournament finals, however, the Yellow Jackets exacted revenge on the 6-3 loss earlier in the season with a 6-0 win for the tournament title.
In singles action, freshman Emily Mueller led the team with an overall record of 24-5, with a 12-1 record at No. 3 singles and an 8-1 record at No. 2 singles.
Classmate Kelsi Wurm followed behind her with a 20-8 overall mark, going 4-1 at No. 6 singles and 3-0 at No. 4 singles.
Mueller and Rife teamed up this season for the best record in doubles play, with a 24-7 record, 16-5 at the No. 2 slot. The duo also went 4-1 when moved up to No. 1 doubles.
Freshman Michelle Tuma and Christie Gales each were awarded OAC Women's Tennis Players of the Week during the season, with Tuma winning the honor April 4 and Gales awarded it the following week.
Ohio Northern wrapped up a fantastic season with its share of postseason awards. Tuma joined classmate Carly Olmstead as First Team All-OAC, while Muller was named Second Team All-OAC and Gales named Honorable Mention.