Women's Tennis Heads To NESCAC Championship

May 4, 2010

Middlebury College will look for its first NESCAC Championship this weekend when they take part in the 2010 NESCAC Women's Tennis Championship at Amherst this weekend in Amherst, Mass. Top-seeded Williams and second seed and five-time defending NESCAC champion Amherst will await Friday's first round results, as both teams have earned a bye into Saturday's semifinals. The 2010 NESCAC Women's Tennis Championship kicks off at 9:00 a.m. on May 7 with fifth-seeded Bowdoin taking on fourth-seeded Middlebury along with sixth-seeded Trinity meeting third-seeded Tufts. Saturday's semifinals and Sunday's final all begin at 9:00 a.m.

This will be the second time in three years that Bowdoin (9-6, 3-4 NESCAC) and Middlebury (12-4, 4-3 NESCAC) have met in the opening round. During the first day of the 2008 NESCAC tournament, the Polar Bears edged the Panthers by a 5-4 score. Middlebury won the lone meeting of the regular season back on April 17, 6-3 in Middlebury, Vt., as the Panthers went 2-1 in the doubles session and won 4-of-6 singles matches in straight sets. Since the win over Bowdoin, Middlebury has gone 2-3 to close out the season, downing Colby and Colby-Sawyer before falling to Williams (7-2), Tufts (6-3), and most recently on Saturday at Amherst (5-4). The Polar Bears will also be looking to snap a three-match skid, having lost four of their last five. Bowdoin has hit the court only twice since it fell to Middlebury, getting swept by the Ephs on April 24 and suffering a 6-3 setback at Tufts on May 1. The Polar Bears missed out on last year's semifinals with a 5-0 loss to Tufts in the first round. Middlebury, meanwhile, earned a 5-1 win over Trinity but fell to Williams in the semifinals, 5-0.

The winner of Friday's Bowdoin-Middlebury match will have to contend with top-seeded Williams (17-2, 8-0 NESCAC) on Saturday. While the Ephs have come up short in the conference final to rival Amherst at each of the last four championships, they still hold the distinction of being the NCAA women's tennis champions after successfully defending their crown last May. Williams heads into the weekend riding a 10-match winning streak and has not given up a single game since a 7-2 victory over Middlebury on April 21, a span of five outings. The Ephs' only losses came at the hands of Division I James Madison (5-2) on March 31 and a 6-3 setback to the Lord Jeffs all the way back in the beginning of October - a match which they avenged on April 18 in Amherst, 6-3, as they swept the doubles set en route to victory. When it comes to the NESCAC playoffs, though, Amherst has found a way to foil Williams. The Jeffs have won all four championship since tournament play was adopted starting in 2006, and the last three finals have been 5-4 decisions in favor of Amherst.

The other first round match will feature third-seeded Tufts (13-5, 7-2 NESCAC) against sixth-seeded Trinity (7-5, 3-3 NESCAC) in what will be the first conference tournament meeting between the two squads. Since returning from spring break in March, the Jumbos have been impressive, going 9-2 with six of the nine victories 9-0 decisions. Tufts' two losses in that stretch came at the hands of the two teams above it in the championship, as the Jumbos fell to Williams 7-2 on April 17 before a 6-3 setback at Amherst on April 20. The Bantams edged out the remaining teams in the conference to make the field for the second year in a row and will be looking to get back into the win column after a 9-0 loss at Williams on Saturday. In the lone match of the regular season between the two, the Jumbos added to their winning streak over the Bantams, which now stands at 11 since 1999, with a 9-0 victory thanks to two 8-1 decisions in the doubles set and straight-set victories in all six singles matches. Another win for Tufts would put it in the semifinals for the third year in a row.

Waiting for either Trinity or Tufts will be second-seeded Amherst (15-2, 7-1 NESCAC). The Jeffs have enjoyed an impressive run as the NESCAC champs in recent years, winning the last five titles outright after sharing the 2004 crown with Williams and going 9-0 since tournament play began. During last year's championship at Williams, Amherst dispatched the Jumbos for the second year in a row by a 5-2 score before upending the hosts for the 2009 title. The Jeffs are 11-1 in their last 12 outings, the lone loss their only against a conference foe this season, the aforementioned setback to the Ephs on April 18. Amherst rebounded from the loss just two days later by downing Tufts 6-3 thanks to a sweep in the doubles set, a win that served as the start to its current four-match winning streak. While it's only been just a few days since the Jeffs faced the Jumbos, it has been just over two years since they faced the Bantams. Amherst won the last meeting between the two teams in April of 2008, 9-0.

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 7 at Amherst
No. 5 Bowdoin vs. No. 4 Middlebury - 9:00 a.m.
No. 6 Trinity vs. No. 3 Tufts - 9:00 a.m.

Semifinals - Saturday, May 8 at Amherst
Winner No. 5/No. 4 vs. No. 1 Williams - 9:00 a.m.
Winner No. 6/No. 3 vs. No. 2 Amherst - 9:00 a.m.

Championship - Sunday, May 9 at Amherst
Semifinal Winners - 9:00 a.m.

--courtesy NESCAC--