Women's Tennis Headed To NESCAC Tournament

April 27, 2009

The Middlebury women's tennis team has earned the third seed for the upcoming NESCAC Tournament at Williams. Amherst, winner of the last four NESCAC crowns, will begin its pursuit of a fifth conference title this weekend during the 2009 NESCAC Women's Tennis Championship at Williams in Williamstown, Mass. The top-seeded Jeffs along with the second-seeded Ephs have earned a first round bye and will await the results of Friday's first round. Action at the three-day event begins on May 1 at 1:00 p.m. with fifth-seeded Bowdoin taking on fourth-seeded Tufts while sixth-seeded Trinity clashes with third-seeded Middlebury. The 2009 NESCAC Women's Tennis Championship will conclude on Sunday, May 3, with the final match getting underway at 1:00 p.m.

Friday's match between fifth-seeded Bowdoin (8-7, 4-3 NESCAC) and fourth-seeded Tufts (8-4, 6-3 NESCAC) will be the second meeting of the two squads in less than seven days. The Jumbos came away as victors on Sunday afternoon, sweeping the doubles matches while taking the top three singles matches in straight sets en route to an 8-1 victory. It was the second-straight win for Tufts over Bowdoin, as the Polar Bears last posted a win over the Jumbos in the spring of 2007. Heading into Friday's first round contest, Tufts is 4-3 in the month of April, with all three setbacks coming at the hands of the higher seeds in this year's championship - Amherst, Middlebury and Williams. Bowdoin, meanwhile, put together a 3-3 record during the final month of the season, falling at Amherst (5-4) and at Williams (9-0) in addition to Tufts this past weekend. Only once have these two teams faced each other in tournament play, with Bowdoin claiming a 6-3 in the first round of the 2006 tournament. During last year's championship, both teams made their way out of the first round before falling in the semifinals.

Friday's winner will advance to face top-seeded Amherst (15-1, 7-0 NESCAC). The Jeffs have been on a roll since falling 6-3 to Williams back in October, earning 15 consecutive victories with the most recent coming at Middlebury on April 25, 7-2. Against its potential semifinal opponents, Amherst edged both teams by a 5-4 margin. The Jeffs avenged a loss in last year's NCAA Tournament to Bowdoin on April 5 by recovering from a 2-1 doubles deficit with four singles victories for the 5-4 win. Two days later at Tufts, Amherst's 2-1 advantage in doubles play was the difference after both teams split the singles matches. Since the current championship format was adopted in 2006, Amherst has won every title, going 7-0. The Jeffs dispatched the Jumbos in last year's semifinal, 6-3, and surpassed the Polar Bears in the semifinals of the 2006 and 2007 playoffs.

Friday's other first round contest will pit third-seeded Middlebury (9-8, 6-3 NESCAC) against sixth-seeded Trinity (12-5, 3-3 NESCAC). The Panthers recorded an 8-1 win over the Bantams in the lone meeting during the regular season on April 5 in Middlebury, Vt. Middlebury fell in its most recent outing, the aforementioned 7-2 setback to Amherst on Saturday afternoon. The Panthers have managed to put together a 5-3 record during April, having faced the five other participants in this year's championship during that time with a win over Tufts on April 18 (7-2) along with the Trinity victory. After the Bantams lost at Middlebury they went on to win five of their next six matches, the lone setback a 9-0 loss to Williams on April 25. Trinity closed out the regular season with a 6-3 non-conference decision against MIT on April 26. The Panthers bowed out to Bowdoin in the first round last spring, 5-4, while the Bantams return to the championship after missing the field a year ago.

Second-seeded Williams (13-1, 6-1 NESCAC) will take on the Middlebury-Trinity winner on Saturday in the semifinals. The Ephs have reached Sunday's final in each of the past three years, and every time they have been frustrated by the Jeffs. During the 2008 Women's Tennis Championship, Williams rolled past Bowdoin 9-0 in the semifinals but came up short to Amherst by a 5-4 score. This season, the defending NCAA Women's Tennis Champions opened up the year with a 9-0 mark before suffering it's first and only loss so far, dropping a 5-4 match to Amherst on April 18. The Ephs rebounded nicely from the setback by going 4-0 over their last four outings, all of which were 9-0 wins. Williams has recorded a victory against the other five participants in this year's tournament already this spring, most notably downing Middlebury 7-2 on April 14 and Trinity 9-0 on April 25. The Ephs have met the Panthers in the semifinals twice in postseason history, posting a 5-4 win in 2006 before rolling to an 8-1 victory in 2007.

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, May 1 at Williams

No. 5 Bowdoin vs. No. 4 Tufts - 1:00 p.m.
No. 6 Trinity vs. No. 3 Middlebury - 1:00 p.m.

Semifinals - Saturday, May 2 at Williams
Winner No. 5/No. 4 vs. No. 1 Amherst - 1:00 p.m.
Winner No. 6/No. 3 vs. No. 2 Williams - 1:00 p.m.

Championship - Sunday, May 3 at Williams
Semifinal Winners - 1:00 p.m.

-- courtesy NESCAC --