NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Bethel College has one of the top four women’s tennis players in the country among small colleges who compete in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association/National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics.
Bethel College senior Paige McKinney, Newton, competed at the ITA/NAIA National Small College Tennis Championships Oct. 16-19 in Mobile, Ala. She qualified for the tournament by winning the ITA West-Central Regional Sept. 28 in Topeka.
After entering the tournament unseeded and drawing #2 seed Maria Klokotzky of Fresno (Calif.) Pacific University, McKinney pulled off the upset, winning 4-6, 6-2, 7-5. In the opening round, this was the only No. 1 or No. 2 seed, men or women, not to advance to the semifinals.
The semifinals saw Bethel College of Kansas up against Bethel College of Tennessee. McKinney could not pull off a second straight upset, losing to #3 seed Ayda Ardila 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.
In the consolation match, McKinney faced her third straight seeded opponent, Natasa Zoricic of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. McKinney came out strong but lost the first set 5-7 and was unable to take a set, losing the second set 0-6 to finish 4th.
“I felt very blessed to start out the national tournament with an unexpected first round win,” McKinney told The Newton Kansan. “It was hard to lose some close matches after that, but it was an absolute surprise to place in the top four. My competitive side reminds me of the match I could have won to get me in the finals. I remind myself that a week ago I would have been happy with 7th place.”
“Paige had a great tournament,” Bethel coach Lonnie Isaac said. “Her first round win against Pacific was one of the top upsets of the entire tournament.”
Bethel College is a four-year liberal arts college affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. Founded in 1887, it is the oldest Mennonite college in North America. Bethel is known for its academic excellence and was the only Kansas private college to be ranked in Forbes.com’s listing of “America’s Best Colleges” for 2008. In sports, Bethel competes in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (KCAC) and is part of the NAIA’s Region IV. For more information, see the Bethel Web site at www.bethelks.edu.