Second-ranked women’s tennis (13-3) took down No. 1 Amherst 5-3 on Sunday to win the NESCAC championship. The women beat Tufts 5-0 on Saturday to advance to the final round of the tournament. The Ephs earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Div. III Championships as a result of claiming the title.
The women came out of the doubles matches down 2-1 on Sunday, as only Kathleen Elkins ’14 and Caroline Capute ’12 were able to defeat their Jeff opponents 8-6 in the number three spot. Nikki Reich ’11 and Lucy Marchese ’11 fell 8-2 in the first position and Taylor French ’12 and Kristin Alotta ’12 were overcome in a hard-fought match 9-7 in the second spot.
In the singles, Marchese finished her match first, winning 6-0, 6-4 in the third spot to tie up the match score 2-2. Nancy Worley ’13 was the next to earn a point for the Ephs, winning in the second spot 6-3, 6-0. Capute was faltering in the sixth spot, putting the pressure on Reich and Elkins to perform for the team. Elkins was able to overcome her Amherst opponent in the fourth position, winning 6-4, 6-3 and putting the win within one point for Williams. Reich then defeated her opponent 6-4, 6-3, giving the Ephs the point they needed to win the NESCAC title in a match score of 5-3. “In the end, Kathleen and Nikki’s singles wins were pivotal as the No. 4 and No. 5 points,” Head Coach Alison Swain ’01 said. “They both did an excellent job of closing out first sets that were very close. They played the big points confidently, and that made the difference.”
Our win against Amherst was really a true team effort,” Swain continued. “It takes every single person bringing positive intensity to their matches, win or lose, to help elevate our team through a close match.”
After receiving a bye in the first round of the NESCAC tournament, the women faced Tufts in the semifinals on Saturday. Williams swept the doubles matches, with Reich and Marchese winning 8-3 in the first spot, French and Alotta dominating 8-2 in the second position and Elkins and Capute defeating their opponents 8-3 at No. 3.
Entering the singles up 3-0, the women needed just two points to win the match and advance to the final round. These two points came from solid victories by Worley and Marchese, both of whom only gave up three sets in their matches. Worley, in the second spot, defeated her opponent 6-2, 6-1 and Marchese followed suit in the third position, besting her opponent 6-0, 6-3.
“Our team is extremely accomplished over the last several years, so there aren’t a lot of program firsts left to achieve for these women,” Swain said. “A NESCAC title was one of them. I am ecstatic for our seniors. They have given so much to this program over the past four years and helped lead us to so many victories, this was a title they hadn’t garnered yet, so I think it was especially sweet for them.”
The Ephs will next play at the NCAA Div. III Championships, which will be held in Claremont, Calif., on May 24-29. “We will practice hard this week and focus on honing our strengths,” Swain said of the women’s preparation.