Victory is doubly sweet for Lions

Freshman Jackie Shtemberg and junior Christina Contrafatto will be going to Florida to celebrate their victories at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Northeast Regionals.

However, Disney World is not in their plans at the moment. Shtemberg, who won the Northeast Singles Championship, paired up with Contrafatto to win the Northeast Doubles Championship. They will be traveling to Fort Myers, Fla., to compete in the ITA National Championships for All-America honors Oct. 12-15.

In her first college tournament, Shtemberg beat junior Dana Bacalla of Stevens Institute of Technology 6-0, 6-0 to capture the singles crown. Then, she paired with Contrafatto for the doubles championship to beat junior Eri Yamakawa and sophomore Dana Lim of SUNY-New Paltz, 8-3, on Sunday at William Smith College.

“I could not have asked for a better doubles partner,” Shtemberg said. “She definitely keeps me in check all the time and really helps me out. It would not be the same without her for sure. I’m very thankful for that.”

“We’re both very pumped up on the court,” Contrafatto said. “We’re both very loud and excited. Being loud is also intimidating. We set up each other well. We can read each other. We work with each other. We got each other’s back, really.”

The top-seeded Lions duo advanced to the final match with an 8-6 win over New York University (NYU) juniors Hayley McLaughlin and Holly Smith. In the semifinals, the pair beat University of Rochester juniors Colleen Cross and Cassie Webster 8-3.

In their first match, Shtemberg and Contrafatto posted an improbable 8-6 win over Hamilton University twins Kara and Marni Powers after being down 6-0.

“They’ve been working hard; I think they know that they have talent and are a very good team,” head coach Scott Dicheck said. “It takes some time for doubles teams to work really well. I think they’ve worked hard and are getting better and better every day.”

“I’ve been through a bunch of USTA (United States Tennis Association) tournaments,” Shtemberg said. “It’s definitely a big factor. It’d be a lot tougher without that experience.”

On Saturday, Shtemberg beat No. 16 Yamakawa 6-1, 6-1. The second-seeded freshman then beat NYU senior Erika Olson 6-2, 6-1 to advance to the next round. The previous day, Shtemberg beat Ithaca’s junior Rachel Gunderson 6-0, 6-1 and sophomore Joanna Cash of Rochester Institute of Technology 6-0, 6-0.

“Since the first match she’s been playing great, playing smart,” Dicheck said about his freshman. “She seems to have gained confidence each and every match.”

The College’s No. 3 seeded sophomore, Haley Kutner, lost in the quarterfinals to Bacalla. Before the loss, Kutner beat Union College sophomore Brittany Miller 6-1, 6-2. On Friday, Kutner beat senior Katie Lee in the first round and won 6-1, 6-2 in the second round against Richard Stockon College senior Kelly Chin.

Lions freshman Stefanie Haar also lost in the quarterfinals to Rochester’s Cross 6-3, 7-5. Before the match against Cross, Haar won 6-3, 6-2 over St. Lawrence University sophomore Kristen Lannon. Haar opened the tournament with a 6-3, 6-1 win over Drew University senior Crystal Vo and beat Jenny Grabler of Skidmore College 6-2, 6-2.

The College’s No. 14 seed, senior Kristen Turturtiello, fell to No. 4 seeded Lim 6-3, 6-3 in the third round. Turturtiello began the tournament with a 6-1, 6-2 win over senior Jennie Werts of Union College and beat freshman Paisley Coats of Manhattanville College 6-2, 6-2.

The College’s pair of Kutner and Haar fell 8-2 to the No. 5 seed, NYU’s Olson and Lee, in the quarterfinals. They opened the first round with an 8-6 win over Stevens’ Bacalla and sophomore Whitney Bender, and then beat Ithaca College sophomore Natalie Jenereski and Gunderson 8-1 to advance to the quarterfinals.

On Wednesday, the Lions recorded an 8-1 home victory over Richard Stockton. The team is 2-0 on the season and 2-0 in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC). The Lions have won 113 consecutive league matches dating back to the fall of 1982, when women’s tennis became an NJAC sport.

Two-time NJAC Rookie of the Week Shtemberg added two wins to her career by beating Ospreys senior Kristin Tukel 6-0, 6-0. Shtemberg and Contrafatto teamed up for an 8-3 win over Tukel and sophomore Christa Philips in first doubles. Contrafatto also won fourth singles against senior Caitlin McMahon 6-0, 6-0.

Women’s tennis action continues today against Ramapo College at home for a 3:30 p.m. start. Men’s tennis will begin the ITA Regional Tournament on Sept. 29.