MARION, Ind. -- Every single Mid-Central College Conference women's tennis championship over the past 20 years has found its way to Indiana Wesleyan University.
The Wildcats completed the conference sweep this year on Saturday with a 5-3 victory over Marian (Ind.) University in the MCC Tournament championship match at the Sutter Tennis Center.
"I think this might be our best season," said Indiana Wesleyan head coach Terry Porter. "We lost two seniors to graduation that were our No. 1 and No. 3 players and they were our No. 2-doubles team that went to the ITA National Tournament. So this year our No. 6 player was our top player, three players moved up and we had a freshman at No. 6."
"We had great improvement of our players to see them move up and play like they played," continued Porter. "On paper, compared to what we had last year, as far as experience with the seniors, we should have been in some trouble."
The victory on Saturday completed the 16th consecutive fall season that Indiana Wesleyan has been unbeaten while their fall win streak is now at 209 during the fall, dating back to 1995. IWU has won every MCC championship since competing in the MCC in 1992. When Indiana Wesleyan reinstated the program in 1991, they did not compete in the conference.
"For 20 years in a row, it's hard to believe that has happened," Porter said. "In that first year we played we were 4-7. It was just a bunch of players put together. Then all of a sudden that next year it was great."
"Since that first season when we lost seven, we've only lost two matches," continued Porter. "And that's almost better than the win streak because that means the next couple of years after the first we were undefeated. We lost two matches in 1995 and then started our streak. That's two losses in about 19 years."
The MCC championship win on Saturday showed how the team improved since a 6-3 win over Marian just two weeks ago on September 24.
"We had played Marian earlier and beat them 6-3 but had to win five out of six singles after we lost two of three doubles matches," added Porter. "We had lost bad at No. 1-doubles, 8-2. Today we won No. 1-doubles 8-3. We won No. 2-doubles in a tight 9-7 match last time but won 8-3 today. In No. 3-doubles, we should have won today but lost 8-6. So the one point I thought we were going to get, we didn't get. The two I thought were going to be tight, we won both 8-3."
"Going up 2-1 after doubles is big because then you only have to split singles. That's a big difference."
Since everything stops once a team scored five points, only five of the six singles matches were finished after Indiana Wesleyan secured its fifth point with three wins in singles out of five.
Andrea Meyering won 7-6, 6-1 at No. 2-singles, Laruen Wilson earned the point at No. 3-singles by a 6-3, 6-2 score and Diane Jones earned a 6-4, 6-0 win at No. 6-singles.
"I was proud of our freshman Diane Jones at No. 6. She was the first off the court at 6-4, 6-0," added Porter. "Andrea Meyering played great at No. 2, she won a tiebreaker in the first set and then won the second set 6-1. Lauren Wilson won at No. 3 6-3, 6-2. She was down two games in the second set and went on to win six straight games. Good effort by everybody. Really proud of our team and how they played today. It's a great win."
Marion High School graduate Kristen Futrell (5-7, 3-6) lost at No. 4-singles and Sarah Richert (4-6, 3-6) dropped her match at No. 5-singles.
"Kristen Futrell had tendinitis in her wrist," said Porter. "I give her credit. She came out in doubles and won. In singles she played hard but couldn't win, it was tough. After it was over she was almost in tears because it hurt so much. She gave it everything she had."
With the win, Indiana Wesleyan earns the MCC automatic berth to the NAIA National Championship which will be contested in Mobile, Alabama in May, 2012.
"We're one of four teams that have gone all 12 years to the NAIA National Tournament since they changed the format to team against team in 2000," Porter said. "It's nice to be in that group that has advanced each of those years."
With conference play out of the way during the fall schedule, Indiana Wesleyan will play some competitive matches outside the NAIA with some NCAA opponents. Porter hopes these matches will help prepare the Wildcats for the NAIA national tournament.
"IUPUI, Valpo, Southern Indiana will be on our spring schedule. We've got some good teams on that schedule. It'll prepare us for the national tournament and makes it competitive for our players. We need to play some good teams to get ready for those programs with lots of scholarships and foreign players at the national level."
Indiana Wesleyan completes the fall with a 14-0 record, a 209 win streak during fall still intact, and 20 straight seasons with a MCC championship.