Ephs cruise to first place at NESCACs, earn NCAA bid


Women's tennis
Women’s tennis repeats as NESCAC champs and heads into Nationals undefeated for the season.

Sunday marked the third consecutive win for women’s tennis (20-0, 7-0 in the NESCAC) over Amherst this year. The Ephs took a 5-2 victory off the Jeffs in the 2015 NESCAC Championships, marking their eighth overall NESCAC title. Williams recieved a bye at the start of the tournament on Friday, overpowering Bowdoin on Saturday to make their way to the final match on Sunday against Amherst. Williams’ win streak stands at 21, as the women are undefeated this year and defeated Johns Hopkins to finish last spring with a win in the NCAA Tournament third-place match. The Ephs boast a strong record this season, playing teams all across the Northeast as well as teams down south from the spring break trip to Virginia earlier in the season. The Ephs first competed in the tournament on Saturday, having received a first-round bye as the top seed. Williams took on Bowdoin, coming out on top in a decisive 5-1 victory. Last Saturday, the Ephs played better in doubles than they had in their previous match against Bowdoin.

Unfortunately, the No. 1 doubles pair of tri-captain Maria Pylypiv ’15 and Julia Cancio ’18 fell 8-3. However, the Ephs’ No. 2 team of Linda Shin ’17 and Juli Raventos ’18 followed with a strong performance, winning their match 9-8 (4) over Bowdoin’s Tess Trinka and Kyra Silitch. Maya Hart ’16 and tri-captain Rebecca Curran ’15 kept the momentum going with an 8-5 victory, winning their match over Emma Chow and Pillar Giffenig. Curran and Hart’s win took the Ephs into singles up 2-1. Pylypiv became the fourth Eph to reach 100 career singles wins on Saturday with her 6-3, 6-2 victory. Pylypiv joins Kate Troy ’04 (102), Kathleen Elkins ’14 (102) and Kristin Alotta ’12 (109). With a run into the NCAA Tournament, Pylypiv could overtake Troy and Elkins to move into second place on the all-time list. In singles, Shin was the next to finish with a decisive 6-3, 6-1 victory over Bowdoin’s Trinka. Her victory put the Ephs up to a 4-1 lead. With only one more win needed to seal the deal, all courts were watched with bated breath. Finally, Raventos finished off the match for Williams, downing her opponent 6-4, 6-2. Amherst got off to an early start in doubles on Sunday, taking a 5-2 lead at No. 1, a 5-0 lead at No. 2 and a 7-1 lead at No. 3. Pylypiv and Cancio lost 8-4 at No. 1 in a closely contested match against Amherst opponents Sue Ghosh and Vicki Ip. Meanwhile, Shin and Raventos fought back from their 5-0 deficit to give Williams a point by winning 8-6 against Amherst opponents Jackie Calla and Maddy Sung. Curran and Hart lost their match at No. 3 against Safi Aly and Sarah Monteagudo. The Jeffs held a 2-1 lead over the Ephs as the two teams headed into singles. Shaking off any nerves from the doubles matches, the Ephs came out raring and ready to win in singles. The Ephs won four singles matches in straight sets to overcome their 2-1 deficit coming out of doubles play and notch a 5-2 win. As a result, three of the matches went unfinished. On the second court, Raventos faced Ghosh, easily taking her opponent 6-3, 6-2 to come out with a decisive victory. On the third court, Shin refused to let Calla get even a point off her in the first set, winning 6-0. Although Calla got two points in the second set, Shin shut her down, winning the match 6-0, 6-2. At No. 5, Mia Gancayco ’18 defeated her opponent in a similar fashion, winning 6-2, 6-1 to keep the fire going for the Ephs. Lastly, Cancio at No. 6 also defeated her opponent 6-2, 6-1 to keep up the streak of straight-set wins. The Ephs powered past the Jeffs. Pylypiv at No. 1 and Curran at No. 4 did not finish their matches as Raventos’ win sealed the match for the Ephs with a fifth point. Pylypiv’s match was especially close, going on to a tie-breaker third set. On the final weekend of regular season play the Ephs edged the Polar Bears 5-4 at home, despite trailing 2-1 after doubles. This match had been the closest match for the Ephs all season.

“We are very proud to have won the NESCAC Championships this year,” Head Coach Alison Swain ’01 commented on the weekend. “It’s a huge honor and a testament to our team culture, determination, and a lot of heart. The final was one of the few matches we have played from behind in, so I thought the team did a particularly nice job of keeping their energy high and staying mentally tough when we were trailing. An accomplishment like this one, is much more than a single match, it’s truly the result of everything this team has worked through and for since September.” “Even though we had beaten Amherst previously in the conference season, we didn’t let that make us play complacently or let up at all this weekend,” tri-captain Monica Pastor ’15 said. “Sure, we went down 2-1 after doubles but it only pushed us even more. Our freshman really stepped it up, grabbing 3 of the 4 singles points to win the match. I think this weekend how solid every player on our team is and it also showed how much we really want to keep improving and dominating, even if it’s against a team that we’ve already beaten.” Williams has gotten a bye in the first round of the 2015 NCAA Div. III Tournament, which will be played on May 7th or 8th. Williams will play the winner of Endicott vs. Farmingdale State on May 8th or 9th in the second round of the tournament. The match will take place at Torrence Hunt Tennis Center in Williamstown. The date and time are pending. The Ephs will be facing similarly tough competition in the NCAA Tournament. 49 teams from all across the country earned bids to the tournament, with nine teams getting byes for the first round of competition. “Now that nationals are approaching, we want to hold onto this hunger but also adopt a new mindset as well,” Pastor said. “We’re planning on amping up our aggression and celebrating every moment. I feel confident that every single one of our players is ready and wants to be that fifth point to clinch the match. This is always our favorite part of the year because it really shows what incredible competitors we really are. Needless to say, we can’t wait!” The women won a record six straight national titles from 2008-2013, before finishing third last season. The women enter the 2015 tournament as the No. 1 ranked team in the nation.