Photo by Erik Andrews '09
This marks the third straight year the Jeffs have been named outright NESCAC champions.

Amherst Wins Third Straight NESCAC Title with 5-4 Thriller Over Williams

By Alex Kantor

April 29, 2007

AMHERST, MA – The third-seeded Amherst College women’s tennis team won its third consecutive NESCAC Championship this afternoon with a thrilling 5-4 victory at home over No. 4 seed Williams College. Amherst held a 4-2 team advantage with three singles matches still playing, and would eventually need a three set victory from junior Jen Murphy (Simsbury, CT) for the title.

It was only fitting that the two longtime NESCAC and Little Three archrivals would come from the drawing the three and four seeds to meet for a rematch of the 2006 NESCAC Championship. Amherst took the title at Williams last season, and the Ephs looked to steal the crown on the road this year.

In what would turn out to be the match of the weekend, Amherst grabbed a 2-1 advantage after doubles play. The pairing of junior Alicia Menezes (Staten Island, NY) and first-year Brittany Berckes (Secaucas, NJ) took an 8-3 win for Amherst in the top spot, while Williams stole the second match, and Amherst the third.

The Lord Jeffs carried momentum from doubles play into the singles bouts, and quickly jumped to a 4-2 advantage with wins in from Menezes, at one, and junior Laura Stein (Rockport, ME), at number six.

Credit must be given to the young Ephs, who did not have a single senior in their line-up, and would not go away easily. With Amherst looking for one final match to clinch the victory, Williams stayed alive picking up the next two results.

Williams sophomore Annie Hancock (Syracuse, NY) took a 6-4, 6-4 win over Amherst senior co-captain Katie Hudson (Los Altos, CA) to bring Williams within one point. The Ephs tied the team result at 4-4 when first-year Grace Balijon (Pointe Vedra Beach, FL) outlasted Berckes 6-1, 3-6, 7-5.

With the two teams knotted up, focus turned to the final singles match of the tournament between Amherst’s Murphy and Eph junior Allison Rottkamp (Cold Spring Harbor, NY) as it headed for a third set.

After dropping the first set 5-7, Murphy won the second set 6-4 to preserve the championship run. The two players battled hard with both teams sitting close by, and a large crowd having gathered at the fence. At four games apiece in the third set, Murphy broke serve to take a commanding edge and serve for the match.

With the game, set, match and NESCAC Championship on the line, Murphy would not disappoint the Amherst fans, and held serve for the win.

With the result, both teams move to 14-4, and while Amherst receives an automatic bid to the upcoming NCAA National Tournament, Williams will wait and hope for an at-large bid.

No. 3 Amherst College vs. No. 4 Williams @ Amherst College – 2007 NESCAC Championship

1) Menezes/Berckes (A) def. Gibson/Schneidman (W) 8-3
2) Rottkamp/Balijon (W) def. Hudson/Wexler (A) 8-4
3) Stein/Murphy (A) def. Parsons/Hancock (W) 8-4

1) Alicia Menezes (A) def. Cary Gibson (W) 6-3, 6-4
2) Grace Balijon (W) def. Brittany Berckes (A) 6-1, 3-6, 7-5
3) Ashley Parsons (W) def. Monica Snyder (A) 6-4, 6-2
4) Jen Murphy (A) def. Allison Rottkamp (W) 5-7, 6-4, 6-4
5) Annie Hancock (W) def. Kaite Hudson (A) 6-4, 6-4
6) Laura Stein (A) def. Anne Schneidman (W) 6-0, 6-3