Women's Tennis Hosting NESCAC's

April 22, 2008

Middlebury will serve as the hosted site for the 2008 NESCAC Women's Tennis Championships this weekend. The three-day event begins Friday morning with fifth-seed Bowdoin facing fourth-seed Middlebury at 8:30 a.m., followed by sixth-seed Wesleyan taking on third-seed Tufts at 11:00 a.m. Friday's winners will advance to Saturday's semifinals against top-seeded Williams and second-seeded Amherst. The 2008 NESCAC Women's Tennis Championship will conclude on Sunday, April 27, with the championship match at 9:00 a.m.

If Friday's first match between fourth-seed Middlebury (10-4, 4-2 NESCAC) and fifth-seed Bowdoin (11-6, 5-4 NESCAC) is anything like the regular season meeting, then it should be an exciting battle to watch. The Panthers and Polar Bears fought tooth and nail on April 12 with Middlebury scratching out a 5-4 win thanks to a 2-1 doubles advantage. Middlebury heads into this weekend's championship at 3-3 during the month of April, most recently dropping an 8-1 decision at Amherst on Sunday afternoon. Bowdoin meanwhile has been streaky throughout the spring, at one point winning eight consecutive matches before falling in four straight, only to bounce back and win twice on April 20 to close the regular season. During last year's championship, Middlebury and Bowdoin both received a first round bye, and both were also upset in the semifinals.

The team that advances out of Friday's Middlebury-Bowdoin match will take on top-seeded Williams (15-2, 6-0 NESCAC) in Saturday's first semifinal. The Ephs have had a strong year on the courts, suffering only two losses - one coming at the hands of rival Amherst in October - and finishing the regular season by winning their last eight matches. Against their potential semifinal opponents, the Ephs earned a 7-2 victory over Middlebury on April 8 and posted a 6-3 win at Bowdoin on April 19. Junior Cary Gibson (Augusta, Ga.) and sophomore Grace Baljon (Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.) hope to help Williams earn its first NESCAC title since tournament play was adopted in the spring 2006 and fifth in program history this weekend. An All-Conference First Team Singles selection in 2007, Gibson is 17-6 this year in singles play, while Baljon, the 2007 NESCAC Roookie of the Year, holds a remarkable 26-1 record.

The other first round match on Friday will feature third-seed Tufts (10-5, 6-1 NESCAC) competing against sixth-seed Wesleyan (11-6, 4-3 NESCAC). The Jumbos return to the championship field for the third year in a row looking to reach the semifinals for the first time in tournament history, while the Cardinals are making their first-ever playoff appearance. Friday's contest will be the first in over four years between the two, as Tufts claimed a 9-0 win over Wesleyan in March of 2004. The Jumbos finished the final week of the regular season 2-1, picking up a pair of 8-1 conference wins over Connecticut College on April 15 and Trinity on April 19. Sophomore Meghan McCooey (Cumberland, R.I.) has been strong for Tufts in 2007-08, going 18-6 in singles play - winning her last 10 matches - and 10-2 when teamed up with classmate Erica Miller (Boca Raton, Fla.) in doubles this spring. Wesleyan has posted a 5-1 record in the month of April, as the Cardinals closed the regular season on a two-match winning streak, most recently overcoming Bates on Monday 7-2.

Second-seed and defending NESCAC champion Amherst (13-1, 6-1) will face the Tufts-Wesleyan victor in Saturday's second semifinal. The Jeffs earned last year's championship as the third-seed, winning three consecutive matches in three days and overcoming rival Williams in the title match for the second year in a row. The lone loss this season for Amherst came at the hands of Williams on April 6 by a 5-4 margin, after the Jeffs opened up the year with a 5-4 win over the Ephs on Oct. 6. Amherst has had the opportunity to compete against Wesleyan and Tufts already this year, posting a 9-0 victory at Wesleyan on March 27 and claiming a 7-2 decision against Tufts on April 8. The Jeffs ride into the weekend with six consecutive victories, most recently completing a three-match sweep during the final weekend of the regular season by a combined score of 25-2. Senior Alicia Menezes (Staten Island, N.Y.) and sophomore Brittany Berckes (Secaucus, N.J.) are at the forefront of a powerful Amherst squad. The doubles partners, named to the 2007 All-NESCAC First Team, won the NCAA Doubles Championship last May and have gone 14-2 together so far this year.

The format of the NESCAC Women's Tennis Championship changed in the spring of 2006 and features six teams vying for the NESCAC crown. Prior to 2006, the event was set up as an individual flighted tournament that included players from all 11 members of the NESCAC. Individuals and doubles teams were seeded in different classes, and a team score was determined on a points system that assigned a value for wins. The championship field is now chosen by a tournament selection committee, which seeds the six participating teams, with the top two seeds receiving a first round bye. Results of each match and updated schedules will be available at the conclusion of each day at www.nescac.com.

First Round - Friday, April 25 at Middlebury
No. 5 Bowdoin vs. No. 4 Middlebury - 8:30 a.m.
No. 6 Wesleyan vs. No. 3 Tufts - 11:00 a.m.

Semifinals - Saturday, April 26 at Middlebury
Winner No. 5/No. 4 vs. No. 1 Williams - 8:30 a.m.
Winner No. 6/No. 3 vs. No. 2 Amherst - 11:00 a.m.

Championship - Sunday, April 27 at Middlebury
Semifinal Winners - 9:00 a.m.

--courtesy NESCAC--