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2001-02 Women's Tennis Season Preview

September 12, 2001

Stephanie Fong '02
Senior Tri-Captain Stephanie Fong
2000-01: A LOOK BACK
With a fourth consecutive trip to the NCAA Final Four, the 2000-01 Amherst women's tennis team once again solidified its standing as one of the top Division III programs in the nation. Under the guidance of reigning Boston Area Coach of the Year Jackie Bagwell, the Jeffs finished with a 16-4 overall record, hosted and won the NCAA Northeast Regional and hosted the inaugural NESCAC Championship Tournament, finishing second to eventual NESCAC and National Champion Williams College. Along the way, Amherst posted notable dual-match wins over defending national champion Trinity University and NCAA quarterfinalist Wisconsin-Eau Claire, and nearly upset Division I power Cal-Fullerton on its home court, securing the top ranking in the nation for much of the spring.

Leading the way for the fourth consecutive season was Jamie Cohen, tabbed the National Senior Player of the Year by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association after advancing to the semifinals of the NCAA Singles Championships for the second straight year (Cohen won the national singles crown as a junior in 2000). The senior co-captain earned the second seed in the NCAA singles draw before falling to Joanna Toke of the University of Rochester, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3, ending her bid to become just the third Division III women's tennis player to win the individual title two years in a row. Cohen posted straight-set wins over Trinity College's Diana Goldman and Denison University's Lauren Gerlach to advance to the national semifinals, and capped her storied career as the NESCAC Player of the Year, the ITA Northeast Senior Player of the Year and a NESCAC Spring All-Academic selection.

Junior teammate Stephanie Fong also qualified for the NCAA Singles Championships and posted a 6-4, 7-5, first-round win over Jenny Pekulik of the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. Fong, who should succeed Cohen as the Jeffs No. 1 singles player in 2001-02, was also tabbed First-Team All-NESCAC after advancing to the "A" Singles Championship at the inaugural NESCAC Championship Tournament, hosted by Amherst.

The Jeffs placed seven players overall - nearly their entire roster - on the 2000-01 All-NESCAC team, including senior co-captain Carolyn Pastel - a first-team selection. Junior Heather Cole, sophomores Susanna Burke and Roopali Agarwal and first-year phenom Wallis Molchen followed suit as second-team picks, while junior Vass Kozoulina was tabbed a Division III All-American by virtue of her number eight ranking (along with Cohen) in the final ITA/ Collegiate Doubles Rankings.

2001-02: A LOOK AHEAD
Despite losing to graduation arguably the best player in school history, All-American Jamie Cohen '01, an astounding fifth consecutive trip to the NCAA Division III Final Four seems inevitable for the 2001-02 Jeffs. In senior tri-captains Stephanie Fong, Vass Kozoulina and Heather Cole, Amherst returns a trio of players with three straight Final Four appearances under their belts, including the college's first and only National Championship in 1999.

Fong emerged as one of the top singles players in the nation in 2001, while her aggressive style was the perfect complement to Cole's steady play on the doubles court. Kozoulina also develped into a prominent doubles threat, teaming with Cohen to edge eventual national doubles champions Mary Ellen Gordon and Anusha Natarajan in last spring's NCAA third-place match against Emory University.

Head Coach Jackie Bagwell expects big things from junior Susanna Burke, who finished last season as the 15th ranked Division III singles player in the Northeast, according to the final Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings. Former All-American Paige Lawrence also returns after a year away from the court, while this year's crop of newcomers - first-years Tristan Hedrick, Rachel Holt, Elizabeth Libert and Erin Murphy - should provide a solid nucleus for years to come.