NESCAC Final: No. 2 Wesleyan 5, No. 1 Middlebury 2

NESCAC Final: No. 2 Wesleyan 5, No. 1 Middlebury 2

Courtesy of Wesleyan Sports Information

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. - The second-seeded Wesleyan women's tennis team took down top-seeded Middlebury 5-2 to win its first-ever NESCAC Championship on Sunday. Despite falling behind 2-1 after doubles, the Cardinals battled back in singles with their best performance of the year, winning four tough matches to secure the victory. 

The Cardinals topped Bowdoin, 5-1, in semifinal action on Saturday, while Middlebury blanked Amherst 5-0 to advance to the Championship. The finals' matchup was the first time that the championship did not feature Amherst or Williams, with both teams vying for their first-ever title. With the conference crown, Wesleyan earns an automatic bid into the 2019 NCAA Tournament, and will wait to hear about hosting a regional round. 

DOUBLES HIGHLIGHTS:

  • At #3, Alissa Nakamoto and Alexis Almy exchanged breaks with their opponents for the first half of the set, but the duo edged ahead at the end of the pro-set thanks to confident movement at the net and a heavy dose of powerful returns.
  • At #1 and #2, the Panthers proved to be too solid, making it very tough for the Cardinals to put balls away. At #1, Victoria Yu and Kristina Yu fell to Heather Boehm and Ann Martin Skelly. At #2, Venia Yeung and Polina Kiseleva battled hard, but were overcome by Skylar Schossberger and Katherine Hughes.

SINGLES HIGHLIGHTS:

  • All six singles matches were close, and none of the six courts had matches that were foregone conclusions. The only completed straight-sets match came at #3, where Kristina Yu topped Christina Puccinelli, 7-5, 6-4.
  • With the match tied 2-2, Kiseleva gave the Cardinals' their first lead of the day with a come-from-behind, 2-6, 6-1, 6-4, win at #4 over Schossberger. Kiseleva lost the first set quickly, but made the necessary adjustments to race through the second, before setting up a showdown in the third where Kiseleva closed out the match.
  • Almy came out of the gates, playing untouchable tennis in the first set, winning 6-1, before going back and forth in a critical second set. Despite dropping a tough tiebreak 7-5, she regrouped to take the third, 6-1, to put Wesleyan on the brink of the title.
  • Clinching the historic victory was Yeung at #2, who battled through three tight sets with Hughes. Both pounded groundstrokes and moved each other around the court in an extremely physical match. In the third set, Yeung stayed tough in the biggest moments to finish off the match, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.
  • Victoria Yu and Alissa Nakamoto did not finish their matches, but put in solid performances at #1 and #6, respectively. At #1, Yu came back from a 5-1 deficit in the first set to win in a tiebreak 7-3 against Boehm. At #6, Nakamoto was up, 7-5, 4-4, when the match was called.