College cruises at ITA Regionals

After trouncing Richard Stockton College, an all-Lion doubles Regional Final has the College’s women’s tennis team on a roll early in the season. Freshman Christie Pollin and senior Haley Kutner defeated Lion counterparts junior Stefanie Haar and freshman Felice Trinh to win the ITA Northeast Small College doubles championship Sunday.

The tournament, which spanned the weekend, was held at William Smith College in Geneva, N.Y., and featured six Lions competing in singles and doubles events.

In the singles tournament, three Lions made it to the quarterfinals but each fell in the round to end the College’s bid to have a repeat singles tournament champion.

Sixth-seeded Haar fell to 15th-seeded Danika Robinson of Skidmore College, 6-0, 6-3. Pollin, a 12th seed, was defeated in the quarterfinals by Lia Wiener of the University of Rochester, 6-1, 6-2. Following suit, the 16th-seeded Trinh came up short in the quarterfinals, 6-3, 6-4, against Skidmore College’s Tori Engros.

Senior Lindsay Katzel won her opening-round match against St. Lawrence University’s Mackenzie Hall, 6-2, 6-2, but fell in the second round. Kutner also played well, opening with a 6-1, 6-2 win over RIT’s Sarah Paduanon, but losing in the third round to Lindsay Willeford of Brockport College, 6-3, 6-4.

In the doubles tournament, the Lions shined as three of the four semi-finals pairs were from the College. In the semis, Kutner and Pollin defeated teammates rookie Emily Petersack and junior Tamra Wroblesky 8-2 to move on and face Haar and Trinh in the finals.

“Playing teammates is never easy,” Kutner said. “In order to stay focused on the match we had to separate our friendship from the competition. I always want to see my teammates play well and succeed, however this time there could only be one winner so it was tough in the end knowing that only two of us could go on to Nationals.”

“Once we got through our first match and we were able to calm down and not let our nerves get the best of us,” Kutner said. “Overall we knew the semifinals and finals were in our reach but had to make sure that we played smart and remained positive even if we were down.”

Coach Scott Dicheck was extremely happy with his charges’ performance.

“It was unbelievable,” he said. “I knew we had potential to do well but to do that well was unbelievable. This was the first time we have had three doubles teams in the finals in my seven years as a coach here and all three teams were impressive.”

Earlier in the week, the Lions hosted Richard Stockton College and turned the Ospreys into another tally mark on their impressive NJAC win streak. The 9-0 shutout victory over Stockton extended the Lions’ streak to 122 NJAC matches dating back to the conference’s creation in 1982.

Haar, Trinh, Pollin, Kutner, Katzel and Petersack were all two-set winners in their singles matches.

The Lions were just as dominant in doubles play as Kutner and Pollin defeated Stockton players Christa Phillips and Kristianne Fernandez, 8-2. Haar and Trinh shut out Kelli Williams and Christy Alexander, 8-0, and the tandem of Wroblesky and Chrissy Principe came out victorious over Ashley Boyd and Stephanie Krupa.

“For me, as a freshman, this is a big win,” Pollin said. “It was my first real college match but for the team it seems business as usual, especially looking back at the NJAC record.”

“The key was the doubles teams,” Dicheck said. “We concentrate a lot on doubles in practice and with our new combos that has been the focus and the reason for a convincing win.”

The Lions will hope to continue their NJAC dominance against Rutgers University-Newark on Oct. 3.

After their tournament win Kutner and Pollin will be competing against Divsion III’s best in the 2008 ITA National Small College Championships in Mobile, Ala., on Oct. 16-19.