Women's Tennis Looks For NESCAC Crown
May 1, 2012
The Panther women's tennis team will look for its first NESCAC Championship this weekend in the six-team tourney at Williams. Action gets underway this Friday with first round matches featuring Tufts against Bowdoin and Trinity versus Middlebury. Teams that advance out of the opening round will face top-seeded Williams and second-seeded Amherst in the semifinals on Saturday, May 5. The NESCAC Women’s Tennis Championship concludes on Sunday morning with action beginning at 9:00 a.m.
The NESCAC championship features the same tournament field for the fourth-straight year. During last year’s tournament, Middlebury and Tufts advanced out of the first round for the third time in a row, only to fall in the semifinals to Amherst and Williams. The wins for the Lord Jeffs and the Ephs pitted the two rivals against one another for the conference title yet again, as the two teams have met in Sunday’s final every spring since the current tournament format was adopted in 2006. Amherst had emerged as the victor in the first five meetings, three of which ended in 5-4 decisions, however Williams would not be denied in 2011 as the Ephs claimed a 5-3 win for their first NESCAC crown since sharing the title with the Jeffs in 2004. The familiar foes would come together in a rematch just weeks later in California for the NCAA championship, and once again Williams would get the best of Amherst, posting a 5-4 win for its fourth consecutive national title.
Friday’s opening round features fourth-seeded Bowdoin (10-7, 5-3 NESCAC) against fifth-seeded Tufts (8-9, 4-4 NESCAC). The Polar Bears suffered only three losses to league opponents this spring - all of which came at the hands of teams seeded higher than them in this year’s tournament. Bowdoin heads into the weekend after recently downing Bates 9-0 on April 26 before coming up short to Williams on April 28, 6-3. The Polar Bears will face the Jumbos for the second time in just over two weeks, as Bowdoin claimed the regular season meeting 8-1 on April 19. The setback for Tufts was the first of four in a row over a 10-day period, falling to Williams (8-1), Amherst (7-2), and Middlebury (7-2) during that span. The Jumbos closed out their spring slate with an important 7-2 win over Trinity on April 29 to secure the fifth seed. This will be the third time Bowdoin and Tufts have met in the championship, and each team has a win to its credit in the series.
Whichever team advances out of Friday’s first round match will have the challenge of getting past top-seeded Williams (18-1, 7-0 NESCAC). The Ephs have been tough to beat this season, as their lone loss of the year came at Division II Lynn on March 27, 6-3. There have been a few close calls, notably a 5-4 victory over non-conference foe Emory on March 23, and a 5-4 decision over Amherst on April 1, a victory which proved to be the difference for the number-one seed in this year’s tournament. In addition to downing the Jeffs, Polar Bears, and Jumbos this spring, the Ephs have also posted a 6-3 victory against Middlebury. During last year’s semifinals, Williams recorded a 5-0 decision over Tufts en route to the 2011 title.
Third-seeded Middlebury (13-2, 5-2 NESCAC) will battle sixth-seeded Trinity (10-5, 4-3 NESCAC) in the other first round match on Friday morning. The margin between playing in the first round and a free ticket to the semifinals for the Panthers was slim, as a 5-4 loss at Amherst on April 29 proved to be the difference. Middlebury’s only other loss this season came at Williams on April 18, 6-3. The Panthers do own victories over Bowdoin (8-1) and Tufts (7-2), yet have not faced Trinity since the spring of 2010. In the tournament for the fourth year in a row, the Bantams grabbed the last spot in this year’s championship, edging out Bates. Against the field of potential foes this weekend, Trinity is 0-3, including a 9-0 loss to its potential semifinal opponent, Amherst.
The Middlebury-Trinity winner on Friday will rise to face second-seeded Amherst (13-3, 6-1 NESCAC) on Saturday. Winners of seven consecutive NESCAC titles, the Lord Jeffs had their reign as champs come to an end to Williams during last year’s tournament. The Ephs have proven to be a pest for the Jeffs this season, as Williams earned a 6-3 victory over Amherst all the way back on Sept. 24 followed by the aforementioned win on April 1. Amherst’s only other setback of the year came at the hands of Emory on April 14, 5-4. Since the loss, the Lord Jeffs have won five straight, all against conference opponents, with four of the five victories coming against the members of the tournament’s first round. During last year’s championship, Amherst defeated Middlebury in the semifinals by a 5-3 score to advance to Sunday’s final.
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.
2012 NESCAC WOMEN’S TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIP
First Round - Friday, May 4 at Williams
No. 5 Tufts vs. No. 4 Bowdoin - 9:00 a.m.
No. 6 Trinity vs. No. 3 Middlebury - 9:00 a.m.
Semifinals - Saturday, May 5 at Williams
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 6 at Williams
Semifinal Winners - 9:00 a.m.