Claremont-Mudd-Scripps sends women's, men's teams to NCAA Division III QFs

Arthur Kapetanakis | May 12, 2023

With the 2023 NCAA Championships underway at the USTA National Campus in Orlando, running from May 11-27, continues to feature some of the nation's top teams from Divisions I, II and III in this 'Road to Orlando' series. In this installment, we spotlight the women's and men's tennis programs from Claremont-Mudd-Scripps. The CMS women return to Lake Nona as defending champions while the men's team is seeking its first national title since 2015.

The women and men of Claremont-Mudd-Scripps have been among the top tennis programs in Division III for much of the past decade, and both teams have dominated the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference for even longer than that.


The CMS women, known as the Athenas, have reached the DIII final in three of the past four tournaments, claiming titles in 2018 and 2022—the latter coming at the USTA National Campus. They have also won 10 straight conference tournament titles.


On the men's side, the Stags have won 16 straight SCIAC crowns, winning more than 150 consecutive conference matches in the process.  


CMS Athletics draws from the student bodies of three institutions: Claremont McKenna College, Harvey Mudd College and the all-women's Scripps College. Athletic Director Erica Perkins Jasper, a former Division I head coach and the Chief Operating Officer at the ITA prior to her time at CMS, says the quality of those schools is the basis for the success of the athletic program.

The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps women's team won its 10th straight SCIAC tournament title this spring. Photo courtesy of CMS Athletics.

"I think first and foremost, the academic strength of those institutions draws in a really strong pool of interested student-athletes," she explained, speaking to "And then I think our coaches [women's head coach David Schwarz and men's head coach Paul Settles] are probably the next draw. Both have a proven track record of helping student-athletes achieve their goals on the tennis court. Both have a great track record of helping student-athletes improve throughout their career. So I think that's a big factor.


"We're also really fortunate to have what I think is the best facility in Division III and arguably one of the best facilities on the West Coast in the Biszantz Family Tennis Center."

Last year's Claremont-Mudd-Scripps women's team poses with the 2022 NCAA Division III trophy. Photo courtesy of CMS Athletics.

Both the women's and men's teams from CMS are through to the Division III quarterfinals at the USTA National Campus, having previously experienced tournament play in Lake Nona one year ago.


In their title defense season, the Athenas have posted a 24-1 record, their only loss coming against the undefeated University of Chicago in the final of ITA Indoors.


"On the women's side, I think when David Schwarz arrived here as head coach, he quickly established CMS as a contender for the national championship," said Jasper. "So now, any player that comes into our program, they're playing with that level of pressure. I think when you're the defending national champions, it's probably even more pressure."

Looking at the Division III women's field, Jasper spoke highly of the top-ranked Chicago program as well as CMS's conference rivals Pomona-Pitzer, whom they beat 5-4 to escape a challenging regional in the NCAA tournament. While a rematch with Chicago could await in the national final, the Athenas must first turn their attention to Amherst College for Sunday's quarterfinals.


The CMS men enter Orlando with a 21-4 record and a 14-match winning streak, despite playing the bulk of the season with just seven players on the roster. They face Washington University in St. Louis in Saturday's quarterfinals at the Campus.


"I couldn't be more proud of how that group has come together," said Jasper. "It's a long season, with injuries and other things that happen. I think their work ethic and ability to band together [has been key]. They've done a great job taking care of their minds and their bodies, to be able come through and win the conference yet again and continue the remarkable streak of SCIAC matches that we've won in a row.


"That's been tremendously exciting, and I couldn't be more proud of that group and how they've competed with only seven and having a little adversity. They dropped two tough matches to Tufts and Williams around spring break time, and I think they were feeling pretty tired and banged up. To kind of rebound and finish the season on such a high note, it's just exciting, and it's kind of what it's all about."

In addition to her work at CMS, Jasper also serves the sport of tennis on a volunteer basis as a member of both the Division III Men's Tennis Championship Committee and the USTA's National Collegiate Pathway Committee. Through her ties to college tennis at large, she was at the USTA National Campus in 2019 for the first NCAA Championships held at the site—that season's DI men's and women's tournaments.


After watching her women's team lift the national title in Lake Nona last season, she is excited to return to see the Division I, II and III tournaments converge on the same site for the first time in NCAA tennis history.


"With respect to the historic nature of it, I think it's so exciting," she said. "For somebody who was a tennis player, was a tennis coach, and is passionate about college tennis as kind of the aspirational goal for all junior tennis players, it's a huge win. I'm super excited about the energy that will be at the Campus. I think the mass of student-athletes, coaches, families, fans… it will be great for the sport"

The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps men's team won its 16th straight SCIAC tournament title this spring. Photo courtesy of CMS Athletics.

Read more at USTA National Campus set to host historic combined NCAA Championships


A Washington State University Hall of Famer following her playing days with the Cougars, Jasper also enjoyed several coaching stints at the Division I level, most recently at the University of New Mexico from 2012-15. But while she expressed her appreciation for all levels of collegiate athletics, her heart belongs to Division III.


"What I find really different and also amazing about Division III, given our current college sports landscape, is I do believe we provide the true student-athlete experience," she explained. "There's no argument on our campus that our student-athletes are in fact students first, and they have the opportunity to do lots of other things on campus, whether it's clubs, participating in institutes, doing a semester abroad. Those are all things that a majority of our student-athletes do—and frankly, a lot of our elite, high-achieving student-athletes do.


"I think that's really what I love about Division III... I have a strong belief that college tennis and college athletics is part of higher education and I feel like my job is very much tied in to the missions of our institutions."

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