Three-Day Championship Set to Start Friday at Middlebury
HADLEY, Mass. – Amherst College, winners of the last six conference crowns, will look to add another title to its trophy case this weekend when the top-seeded Lord Jeffs head to Middlebury, Vt. for the 2011 NESCAC Women's Tennis Championship. The action begins this Friday with first round matches featuring fourth-seeded Middlebury taking on fifth-seeded Bowdoin at 1:00 p.m., followed by third-seeded Tufts against sixth-seeded Trinity at 3:00 p.m. The winners from Friday will advance to Saturday's semifinals to face Amherst and second-seeded Williams. The 2011 NESCAC Women's Tennis Championship wraps up on Sunday, May 8, with the final getting underway at 1:00 p.m.
The first round schedule for the 2011 NESCAC championship is exactly the same as the 2010 edition of the tournament. Fifth-seeded Bowdoin (12-5, 5-4 NESCAC) meets fourth-seeded Middlebury (9-4, 4-3 NESCAC) in the opening round for the third time in four years. The Polar Bears won the first meeting in the 2008 tournament, 5-4, while the Panthers claimed a 5-0 victory in the first round last spring. During the regular season contest between the two on April 16 in Brunswick, Middlebury earned a 6-3 win over Bowdoin for the second-straight year. Since that victory, Middlebury has gone 2-3 overall, with all three losses coming against the three teams above the Panthers in this year's tournament. Middlebury wrapped up its conference schedule on Sunday afternoon with an 8-1 setback against Amherst. Bowdoin is 4-1 over its last five outings, the lone loss coming at Amherst on April 23, 9-0. The Panthers have reached the NESCAC semifinals in each of the last two years, while the Polar Bears have not been able to advance past the first round since their 2008 tournament victory over Middlebury.
Waiting to meet the Bowdoin-Middlebury winner will be top-seeded Amherst (15-1, 8-0 NESCAC). The Jeffs claimed their first NESCAC title in 2004, sharing the crown with rival Williams, then went on to win the next six championships outright, as the Jeffs boast an 11-0 record in tournament play. At last year's conference championship, Amherst posted back-to-back 5-0 scores over Tufts and Williams en route to the 2010 title. This season, the Jeffs only loss came at Division II Barry on March 19, 7-2. When it returned from its spring break trip to Florida, Amherst rebounded on March 30 with a 9-0 victory over Wesleyan, the first of an 11-match winning streak for the Jeffs. The closest any team has come to upending the Jeffs during their recent streak has been Tufts. The difference in the April 19 match against the Jumbos proved to be the doubles session, as Amherst took it 2-1 in a 5-4 overall victory.
Friday's other first round match will have third-seeded Tufts (13-4, 6-2 NESCAC) taking on sixth-seeded Trinity (9-6, 4-3 NESCAC). Last May, the Jumbos rolled to a 6-0 decision over the Bantams in what was the first ever meeting between the two teams in the NESCAC tournament. The win set up the third consecutive semifinal showdown between Tufts and Amherst, and once again the Jeffs came out on top as they posted a 5-0 score. While the Jumbos would like another shot at upending the Jeffs this season, they first must get past a Bantam squad which has never reached the conference semifinals. Tufts won the lone regular season meeting back on April 9 in Hartford 9-0, as five of the six singles matches were won in straight sets. The Jumbos are 2-2 over their last four matches with the two setbacks coming against Amherst, the aforementioned 5-4 decision in favor of the Jeffs, and an 8-1 loss at Williams on April 23. The Bantams are also 2-2 in their last four outings and will be looking to snap a two-match skid after suffering a 9-0 loss to Amherst on April 23 and a 6-3 setback against MIT on April 30. Tufts has taken the last 13 matches against Trinity, a streak which dates back to 1999.
Whichever team advances out of Friday's first round will meet second-seeded Williams (15-3, 6-1 NESCAC) on Saturday afternoon for a shot at the NESCAC championship. The Ephs, who have won the last three NCAA titles, have defeated the Jumbos twice already this season, earning a 6-2 decision on Oct. 9 and also an 8-1 victory more recently on April 23, but have not yet faced the Bantams. Williams has reached the conference final in each of the last five years, and every time Amherst has managed to prevent the Ephs from taking home the crown. During last year's championship, Amherst rolled past Williams 5-0, an uncharacteristic result given that the Jeffs had beaten the Ephs by a 5-4 score in each of the previous three finals. Two of Williams' three losses in the 2010-11 campaign have come at the hands of Amherst, 5-4 on Oct. 2 and 7-2 more recently on April 17. Whichever team advances to Saturday's semifinal against Williams will be facing the Ephs for the first time in tournament history.
The format of the NESCAC Women's Tennis Championship changed in the spring of 2006 and features six teams vying for the NESCAC crown. Prior to 2006, the event was set up as an individual flighted tournament that included players from all 11 members of the NESCAC. Individuals and doubles teams were seeded in different classes, and a team score was determined on a points system that assigned a value for wins. The championship field is now chosen by a tournament selection committee, which seeds the six participating teams, with the top two seeds receiving a first round bye.
Results of each match and updated schedules will be available at the conclusion of each day at www.nescac.com.
2011 NESCAC WOMEN'S TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIP
First Round - Friday, May 6 at Middlebury
No. 5 Bowdoin vs. No. 4 Middlebury - 1:00 p.m.
No. 6 Trinity vs. No. 3 Tufts - 3:00 p.m.
Semifinals - Saturday, May 7 at Middlebury
Winner No. 5/No. 4 vs. No. 1 Amherst - 1:00 p.m.
Winner No. 6/No. 3 vs. No. 2 Williams - 3:00 p.m.
Championship - Sunday, May 8 at Middlebury
Semifinal Winners - 1:00 p.m.