|Amherst Rallies to Beat Gustavus-Adolphus and Advance to National Semifinals|
Amherst Rallies to Beat Gustavus-Adolphus and Advance to National Semifinals
By Alex Kantor
May 15, 2007
FREDERICKSBURG, VA – The Amherst College women’s tennis team rallied from down 3-0 to beat Gustavus-Adolphus College 5-4 this afternoon, and advance to the NCAA Division III Final Four. Amherst will face Sewanee tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m.
Playing in the first match of the day, the Lord Jeffs and the Golden Gusties played alongside the other quarterfinal match between Denison and Sewanee.
In doubles action, Amherst’s top pairing of junior Alicia Menezes (Staten Island, NY) and first-year Brittany Berckes (Secaucus, N.J.) jumped out to early 2-1 lead over the top Gusties pair, when Berckes put away a volley with confidence. The tides would change on court one quickly, as Gustavus would role off four straight games to take a commanding lead in the set 5-2. The ones battled back to 7-6, but fell 8-6.
Amherst’s number two doubles team of Jill Wexler (Beverly, MA) and senior co-captain Katie Hudson (Los Altos, CA) also pushed to an early lead in their match, but would eventually fall 8-5 to surrender the first team point of the day.
The Jeffs trailed in the third doubles match as well, with junior Laura Stein (Rockport, ME) and Jen Murphy (Simsbury, CT) trying to make a comeback. The Gusties took their second team point with an 8-4 victory. Amherst trailed 3-0 on team points heading into singles, and would need spectacular results to avoid elimination.
After a short break, Amherst took to the courts with hopes of a comeback in their minds. The Lord Jeffs made their normal changes, inserting junior Monica Snyder (Newton, MA) at the number three seed.
Menezes squared off with G.A.C.’s Lauren Hom in a back-and-forth match-up. The top Lord Jeff held a 5-3 edge in the first set, and was serving for the frame, but double-faulted to give up the game. Hom rallied to hold serve and then break Menezes again for a 6-5 advantage. Menezes would break Hom to knot things up at 6-6, and then win 7-6. Hom took the second set 6-2 to send the top match to a pivotal third set.
Berckes started off rolling against Jaimie Gaard on the second court, taking the first set 6-0 in impressive fashion. She maintained her momentum with a 6-1 second set result to give Amherst its first team point of the match.
On the third court of action, the hard-hitting Snyder took a gutsy 6-4 first set result over Jenni White, before dropping the second set 3-6. Snyder rallied from down 1-0 in the third set to take a 6-1 win, to tie the team score at 3-3.
The ever-consistent Murphy out-dueled Sierra Krebsbach for a 6-4 result in the opening set of their match at number four singles. Krebsbach took a 4-1 lead in the second set before Murphy battled back to a 4-6 defeat, and line up a third set thriller.
Hudson rolled to a 6-2, 6-1 result over Hannah Frericks to help maintain the comeback effort for Amherst. With action being played only to a 5-point team decision, two singles wins for G.A.C. would end Amherst’s season.
In the far court of action, Laura Stein quietly registered a come-from-behind first set win in her match against Darcy Haubrick, 7-5, and then knocked out Haubrick 6-3 in the second set to give Amherst a 4-3 team lead with two matches playing in the third set.
After losing all three doubles bouts, Amherst responded by taking the first set in all six singles matches, and closed out three of the singles slates in straight sets. Snyder won her match in three sets, leaving Menezes and Murphy still playing for the win.
Menezes ultimately dropped the third set to Hom, 4-6, to tie the team match at four wins apiece. The situation left Murphy on the court in the third set, leading 4-3, hoping to send Amherst into the Final Four.
The morning’s final two competitors traded four breaks in a row to leave Murphy leading 6-5, serving for the game, set, match and Final Four. Murphy held serve for the first time in five games in the match-up to win the deciding set 7-5. The third set win for Murphy marks the second time in a matter of weeks that the number four player has vaulted Amherst to a late win, after picking up the crucial win over Williams in the NESCAC Championship.
Amherst will return to the courts tomorrow morning in the National Semifinal at 9:00 a.m. against Sewanee.
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