Ephs upset Jeffs at NESCACs

Women’s tennis (18-4, 6-2 in the NESCAC) upset top-ranked Amherst 5-2 in the final round of the conference playoffs to win the NESCAC title on Sunday. On their way to the final, the women beat Bowdoin 5-1 in the semifinals on Saturday.

Against Bowdoin on Saturday, the women started strong in doubles, winning two of the three matches. The No. 1 doubles team of Kara Shoemaker ’14 and Rebecca Curran ’15 played a grueling match, eventually grinding out a 9-8 (6) win. Kathleen Elkins ’14 and Maria Pylypiv ’15 followed suit and finished with an 8-5 victory at No. 2 doubles. Both Elkins and Pylypiv continued their success as they moved to the singles matches. Elkins defeated her opponent 6-2, 6-2, while Pylypiv won her match 6-3, 6-2. Although her match went unfinished, Shoemaker had taken the first set 6-2 at No. 1 singles. Alex Stone ’16 encountered a similar situation in her singles match when she won her first set 6-3 but did not finish her match. Co-captain Nancy Worley ’13 won her No. 4 singles match handily in straight sets with a 6-1, 6-3 victory.

On Sunday, the women took on first-ranked NESCAC and Little Three rival Amherst in the NESCAC final. The No. 1 doubles team of Shoemaker and Curran fought hard through a tiebreak to eventually defeat its opponent 9-8 (7). The No. 2 doubles team of Pylypiv and Elkins was victorious as well, defeating its opponent 8-3. The Ephs were equally triumphant over the Jeffs in singles play, winning three of the four completed matches. At No. 1 singles, Shoemaker beat her opponent 6-3, 6-4. Her victory was quickly followed by a 6-4, 6-3 victory by Elkins at No. 2 singles. Worley crushed her opponent 6-1, 6-2. Both Curran and Pylypiv had uncompleted matches, since the overall matchup was decided by Worley’s victory.

“Our team’s level of play this past weekend was quite strong,” Head Coach Alison Swain ’01 said. “We demonstrated a lot of improvement in competitive toughness, our level of tennis play and our energy from a few weeks ago. However, it is essential that we continue to focus on improving this week and preparing for a tough weekend of NCAA competition. From here on out, it’s single elimination, so we will focus on each individual match.”

The NESCAC victory is the Ephs’ second conference title in the past three years and secured them a place in the Div. III NCAA tournament. This will be the 20th consecutive year the women have qualified. Amherst, Bowdoin, Middlebury and Tufts also received at-large bids to the tournament.

The regional rounds of the tournament will be played at the women’s home Torrence Hunt Tennis Center. The women received a first-round bye and will face the winner of Friday’s match between Ithaca and Colby-Sawyer on Saturday.