Story Courtesy of the Kenyon Sports Information Department
In a wildly unpredictable match on May 24th, Emory University junior Daniela Lopez outlasted Kenyon College senior Diana Aboubakare (Orange, CA/Luther), 7-5, 0-6, 6-4 and advanced to second-round play in the NCAA Division III Women's Tennis Singles Championship at the Biszantz Family Tennis Center in Claremont, California.
The loss for Aboubakare ended her season and her Kenyon career. The Ladies' top singles player wrapped up her final campaign with an 18-6 record and concluded her four-year collegiate run with a 69-36 career singles mark.
The NCAA Championship appearance was the third straight for Aboubakare, who earned All-America honors during the 2017 season. In addition to that top honor, Aboubakare's past four seasons at Kenyon included four All-North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) first team honors, the NCAC Newcomer of the Year award in 2015, the NCAC Player of the Year in both 2016 and 2018, and, most recently, the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Central Region Senior Player of the Year award.
Playing Lopez, Aboubakare came out flat, dropping the first three games of the match, which spanned nearly three hours. Once she warmed up, Aboubakare started winning two games to every one for Lopez and she eventually tied things up at 5-5. Lopez, however, had an answer and held off Aboubakare to take the first set 7-5.
Aboubakare became a bit more aggressive in the second set and Lopez came unglued. Aboubakare's style of play frustrated Lopez, who committed a bevy of unforced errors and was convincingly defeated 6-0.
In the third and final set, Aboubakare kept momentum on her side, taking the first game. Lopez, however, battled through a long second game and came out on top, knotting the score at 1-1. That battle boosted Lopez's confidence and she went on to build leads of 3-1 and 5-2.
Aboubakare never threw in the towel. She stormed back to get to 5-3 and then 5-4, before Lopez finally put her away with an overhead smash on her third match-point attempt.