|Amherst Falls to Washington & Lee in National Championship Match|
Amherst Falls to Washington & Lee in National Championship Match, 5-2
By Alex Kantor
May 17, 2007
FREDERICKSBURG, VA – The Amherst College women’s tennis team faced the Washington & Lee Generals this afternoon in the 2007 NCAA Division III National Championship at host Mary Washington University. Amherst played with more heart than a school could ask for, but fell 5-2.
In the morning’s consolation match, the Sewanee Tigers defeated Williams College 5-3, for the school’s best finish in school history.
In doubles action, the Lord Jeffs would be happy to repeat the results from their semifinal win over Sewanee and take all three team points.
On court one junior Alicia Menezes (Staten Island, NY) and Brittany Berckes (Secaucus, NJ) jumped out to a 3-0 lead over Emily Applegate and Kristen McClung. The top Jeff partners continued to have success, and pushed to a 5-0 advantage.
After dropping the first game of the match, Amherst’s second pairing of senior co-captain Katie Hudson (Los Altos, CA) and Jill Wexler (Beverly, MA) won two straight games to take a 2-1 lead over Katie Tabb and Ginny Wortham. The Generals broke Hudson’s serve to move back to a 4-3 advantage, before each team held serve to move to 5-4 W. & L.
Amherst’s third doubles team of Jen Murphy (Simsbury, CT) and Laura Stein (Rockport,ME) quickly found themselves in a 3-0 hole against Lauren Caire and Leah Weston. Amherst continued to struggle, falling into a 6-0 deficit, and to an 8-2 result, giving the generals a 1-0 team advantage.
With Amherst dropping the third doubles point, and in good shape to win the top doubles match, momentum would be gained or lost on court two. Menezes and Berckes finished off their match 8-3, but Hudson and Wexler would fall 8-5. Amherst trailed 2-1 coming out of the doubles portion of play, and would need to win four of the six singles matches for the title.
In singles action, Menezes was slated to face Emily Applegate, the 2006 NCAA Individuals singles champion. Menezes fell to a 4-0 hole in the first set before breaking serve to close to within three games. Applegate eventually took the first set 6-2, and then jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the second set.
First-year sensation Berckes, played neck-and-neck with Wortham in set one, with Berckes holding a slight 3-2 advantage. Berckes took a 6-3 first set win, and then moved to 2-1 in the second set. Berckes improved to 4-1 in the second set, but would need help from her teammates to stay alive.
Junior Monica Snyder (Newton, MA) was inserted at the number three singles position to face Katie Tabb. After falling to a 3-0 hole, Snyder broke serve and then held pace to get back to a 3-2 deficit. The number three players played an exciting tiebreaker in the opening frame, with Tabb taking the set 7-6 (8-6).
Amherst’s quarterfinal round hero Jen Murphy, dropped the first set of her match against Kelly Will 6-0. Will was well rested after sitting out of the doubles competition, and ran past Murphy 6-2 in the second set to put the Jeffs in a 3-1 team hole.
Hudson found herself on the positive side of an early 3-2 score in a grinding match with McClung. McClung hung tough, and held a 6-5 advantage in the first set.
Laura Stein played in a battle of a first set with Leah Wetson, as the two number six seeds played to 4-4. Stein fought hard and took the first set, 7-6 in a tiebreaker.
With Berckes on the verge of victory on court two, Menezes’ match with Applegate came to a close. The Generals held a 4-1 team edge, leaving Amherst needing the final four singles results.
Snyder fell into a four games to one hole in the second set, and was left looking for a miracle to win the second set and make a comeback. Snyder broke Tabb’s serve to improve to a 2-4 deficit while Berckes moved to 5-2 next door.
Almost simultaneously, Berckes closed out her win 6-2, to tighten the gap to 4-2 in team points, but it was too little too late. Washington and Lee’s Tabb finished off Amherst’s hopes of a national title with a 6-2 second set win.
Amherst finishes and unbelievable season with a hard fought match against one of the nation’s finest programs. The Lord Jeffs showed heart and grit, taking a number of the remaining matches to tiebreakers and close results.
The Jeffs finish with a team record of 18-5, while Menezes and Berckes will remain in Fredericksburg for the Individual Singles and Doubles tournament over the next three days.
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