Women’s tennis prepares for first round of NCAA postseason

After falling in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference championship game, the Indiana University of Pennsylvania Crimson Hawks have turned their attention to the NCAA tournament.

For the fifth consecutive time, and seventh overall, the Crimson Hawks were selected to the NCAA Division II Women’s Tennis Championships.

IUP will serve as one of two hosts in the Atlantic Region along with California University of Pennsylvania.

Prior to the tournament, the Crimson Hawks had to close out the regular season against a capable West Liberty University team.

The Hilltoppers gave the team a challenge, but IUP rallied and captured the 6-3 victory and capped off a 17-9 season.

IUP took two of three doubles matches from West Liberty.

The No. 1 pairing of Tanya Timko (junior, psychology) and Erika Schnaas (redshirt junior, graphic design) defeated West Liberty’s premier tandem of Raissa Wischi and Lauren Howard 9-7.

Roxana Viviana Yeh (freshman, nutrition) and Rachel Wood (freshman, criminology) also earned a victory.

With the momentum on their side, the Crimson Hawks looked to win in singles competition.

Head coach Larry Peterson’s No. 1 player Timko fell to Howard of West Liberty 6-3 and 6-3.

The Hilltoppers fourth player, Emily Dawson, defeated Wood 6-4 and 6-0, but those were the only matches in singles competition the Crimson Hawks lost.

Sophie Butland (freshman, exercise science) won, and so did Alanna McFail (sophomore, biology), Schnaas and Yeh.

For Peterson, the win added confidence for the team’s upcoming postseason tournament.

“West Liberty is a great team,” Peterson said. “They came in as a five that could knock off a four seed. It was nice to have a match like this before the tourney. It was a quality win against a good team.”

The victory over the Hilltoppers was Peterson’s 100th career victory at the helm of the Crimson Hawks.

Peterson oversaw a massive turnaround of a program that was 1-7 before his arrival in the 2007-08 season to a team that will see NCAA postseason action for the fifth consecutive season.

“It’s been a ton of fun,” Peterson said. “We built this program from the ground up and brought players in who were committed. I couldn’t be more proud.”

Two Crimson Hawks seniors received accolades for their dedication to the IUP tennis program.

Ranvita Mahto (senior, pre-physical therapy) and Schnaas are departing the program due to graduation.

Peterson said that Mahto and Schnaas have been integral to the team’s success over the years.

“They have been absolutely an integral part of this team,” Peterson said. “We couldn’t have done what we’ve done without them because they came in at the beginning of the building process.”

The Crimson Hawks received more accolades as Timko, the team’s No. 1, earned the PSAC’s Player of the Year award.

Timko has proven to be a valuable member of the Crimson Hawks. She is fifth all-time in singles wins at IUP with 63, third with 77 doubles victories and third with 140 combined victories.

“This is very well deserved,” Peterson said. “I couldn’t be more proud of Tanya.”

IUP enters the NCAA postseason as the second seed in the Atlantic Region. IUP hosts third seed West Virginia State, sixth seed Slippery Rock and seventh seed Chowan University from Murfreesboro, N.C.

Ranked as the second team in the Atlantic Region all season long, the Crimson Hawks currently rank 44 in the Division II by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association.

Game action against Chowan starts at 11 a.m. The Atlantic Regional championship match is scheduled for Sunday.