By Chris Molicki
The women’s tennis team had a special week as they captured the NJAC title, received the first automatic bid into the 2012 NCAA Division III championships in the spring and improved their winning streak against conference opponents to 142 by completely shutting out Ramapo College last Wednesday.
“It was very important because it is one of our goals every year to win the conference, and this year, for the first time ever, winning the conference guaranteed us a spot in team nationals in the spring,” said junior Allison Tierney.
The win gave the College a 6-0 record in the conference while Ramapo fell to 3-1. Junior Karisse Bendijo, after just winning NJAC Player of the Week for the second time this season, led the charge for the Lions, winning 6-0, 6-0. Tierney, her doubles partner, also won 6-0, 6-0, and the two won their doubles match 8-0.
Other singles winners included junior Paige Aiello, freshman Deborah Wu, senior Emily Petersack and freshman Sarah Lippincott — all winning 6-0, 6-0. Aiello and Wu also won their doubles match 8-0. The sweep was completed over the Roadrunners with Petersack and freshman Alex Bologno, who just won rookie-of-the-week honors, winning the third doubles match 8-0.
Winning the NJAC carried even more weight this year than it has in the past.
“This year, a seventh team, Rutgers-Camden, entered our conference,” Tierney said. “So now winning the conference gets you into nationals.”
Every NJAC women’s title has gone to the College since it started sponsoring the sport in 1982. This marks 29 consecutive titles for the Lions and now a bid to the 2012 NCAA Division III championships. What has already been an amazing season could get even better.
“Our ultimate goal is to win the whole thing,” said Tierney. “We would like to take out some top-ranked teams and make it as far as possible.”
The team then attempted to build off of their success when they traveled to Geneva, N.Y. for the ITA Regional Tournament that went from Saturday to Monday.
In another gutsy showing, Bendijo and Tierney fell just short of defending their USTA/ITA Northeast regional championship and winning the back-to-back titles as they lost to Skidmore College’s Lee Ford and Nataly Mendoza in the finals 6-4, 6-4.
The pair won four previous matches to make it to the finals by the scores of 8-0, 8-0, 9-8, and 8-3 against teams from William Smith College, Nazareth University, Skidmore and New York University, respectively.
In singles action, Bendijo won three matches before losing to Alex Goodman from Rochester. Tierney won two matches before falling to Jessica Bourque from Stevens.
Aiello and Wu were both able to win their first singles matches but didn’t make it past the second round. However, they were able to dominate in the doubles bracket on Saturday by winning a match against both Ithaca and RIT to stay alive, eventually advancing to the semifinals. Unfortunately, they lost 8-5 to Ford and Mendoza.
Senior Felice Trinh was back in action during the tournament, returning from a recent ankle injury. She won her first singles match but lost in the second round. She and fellow senior Petersack teamed up in doubles and were able to take out their first opponent 8-1 before dropping their second-round match.
The regional tournament marked the end to another amazing tennis season that included broken records and incredible personal accolades. The team looks to continue improving and have their success carry over to the spring.