Alicia Menezes '08, Brittany Berckes '10
Photo Courtesy of University of Mary Washington
First-year Brittany Berckes (left) and junior Alicia Menezes (right) earned the first national doubles championship in Amherst College history

Menezes and Berckes Claim Program's First National Doubles Title!

By Alex Kantor

May 21, 2007

FREDERICKSBURG, VA – The Amherst College women’s tennis doubles pair of junior Alicia Menezes (Staten Island, NY) and first-year Brittany Berckes (Secaucus, NJ) faced conference rivals Amy Roche and Claire Smyser of Middlebury in the NCAA Doubles National Championships this morning. The Jeffs took a 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 result to win Amherst’s first doubles national title.

Menezes and Berckes cruised past their opponents from Pomona-Pitzer this morning to advance to the title match. After a 45-minute 6-2, 6-1 semifinal win, the Jeffs would have to face opponents from Middlebury for the third time this year. In the two previous meetings of the 2006-07 season, the Jeffs recorded a pair of wins with an 8-4 result in the fall, and an 8-3 win in the spring.

The two tandems took the court for the final match of the 2007 NCAA Division III Championships at Mary Washington University in Fredericksburg, VA at just after 11:45 a.m. The Amherst pair looked well rested, while Roche and Smyser were coming off a three set match against Wheaton (IL).

Menezes and Berckes jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the first set, and pressed to close out the frame. The two sides traded games to move to 5-2, with Amherst on the verge of a 1-0 set advantage. The Jeffs took the first set 6-2 and were suddenly just a single set away from being champions.

Roche and Smyser refused to give up, and came out gunning in the second set, using motivation from a three set semifinal win to push them. The Panther duo took a quick 2-1 lead in the second set, but Amherst bounced back with a two straight games to regain the pace at 3-2. The Middlebury players returned the favor to move to a 4-3 advantage. Amherst would need three straight games or four of the next five games to win the set without going to a tiebreaker.

Roche and Smyser surrendered only one more game in the set, and took the stanza 6-4 to force a decisive third frame. Amherst’s top team found itself in an 0-2 hole in the third set before picking up a single game. Menezes and Berckes won two of the next three games to draw even at 3-3 in the third set.

Amherst won a pivotal game to take a 4-3 advantage, and their first lead since 3-2 in the second set. The Jeffs held serve for a fast 5-3 lead, and were just four points away from a title. Roche and Smyser denied the break, but at 5-4, Berckes and Menezes would serve for the crown.

With one last game, Alicia Menezes and Brittany Berckes were National Champions. After the heartbreak of falling in the team championship last week, the pair will be bringing home the top trophy for the 2007 Doubles Tournament.