Behind Brewer and Devlin, Lord Jeffs Hope to Regain NESCAC Title
Contact: Ben Badua
Brewer and Devlin captured the 2011 NCAA Doubles Tournament Championship as first-years.
After a fast 4-0 start, Amherst suffered its first loss of the year on Mar. 19 at the hands of Division II Barry University. The Lord Jeffs responded by winning their next 11 matches, closing out the regular season slate as the nation’s top-ranked team following a victory over NESCAC rival Middlebury College.
In search of a seventh-consecutive league title, Amherst upended the Panthers for the second time in as many weeks but was upset by Williams in the finals. Despite the setback, the Lord Jeffs secured their 17th-consecutive NCAA Tournament berth, sweeping SUNY New Paltz and Middlebury to capture the regional crown.
Amherst then ousted Tufts University 5-1 in the national quarterfinals before defeating Emory University 5-3 to earn the program’s fifth national championship appearance. Falling behind 3-0 after doubles action, a resilient Lord Jeffs squad fought back, rallying to knot the match at 4-4 before finally dropping a heartbreaking 5-4 decision to Williams.
Finishing as the national runner-up for the fourth time in school history, Amherst wrapped up its 2010-11 slate with a 20-3 overall record. Head coach Jackie Bagwell, who became just the seventh head coach in NCAA Division III to surpass the 300-win plateau, earned ITA Northeast Coach of the Year honors for her efforts, as the Lord Jeffs recorded their third-straight 20-win season.
Amherst enters the 2011-12 season without several familiar faces following the departure of six seniors from last year’s national runner-up squad. Among those lost to graduation were key contributors Mimi Bell, Natasha Brown, Carlissa King and Laken King, all of whom played an instrumental role in the Lord Jeffs’ march to the national title match a year ago.
During their four seasons in Purple and White, the most recent Amherst senior class compiled an astounding 78-10 overall record with a 28-2 league ledger, securing a pair of trips to the national semifinals and a national championship berth last season.
Hoping to continue the program’s tradition of excellence in the Pioneer Valley are senior Laura Danzig, junior Caroline Richman and sophomores Jordan Brewer, Gabby Devlin and Jennifer Newman.
Brewer and Devlin went 33-4 in doubles play last season, including a 19-0 mark in tournament play.
Perhaps two of Amherst’s biggest returning players are Brewer and Devlin, who burst onto the scene as a pair of dynamic first-years, helping to lead the Lord Jeffs deep into the NCAA Tournament. Amherst’s one-two punch went 33-4 as a doubles tandem in 2010-11, capturing the NCAA Doubles Tournament championship en route to ITA All-America honors.
Equally as devastating as singles players, Brewer went 23-8 at the top of the Lord Jeff lineup, while Devlin finished the season with a 19-4 record playing in the middle of the order. Not to be outdone, Newman made the most of her appearances, going 8-0 in singles and posting a 13-2 doubles record playing alongside Richman.
A second-team All-NESCAC honoree a year ago, Danzig played a prominent role in Amherst’s title run. She recorded an important 6-4, 6-4 second singles win in the semifinal against Emory before nearly pulling off a stunning tiebreak win in the national title match that would have sealed Amherst’s comeback bid.
One of seven upperclassmen on the Lord Jeff roster this season, Richman also played an integral role in Amherst’s 2011 NCAA run. She went 5-0 in singles and 4-1 in doubles during tournament play, finishing the year at 18-4 and 19-5, respectively.
Also looking to step into more prominent roles with the departure of last year’s decorated senior class are senior Kim Snyder and sophomores Lauren Slutsky and Zoe Pangalos. Slutsky and Snyder combined to go 8-1 as singles players, while the trio combined for a 13-7 doubles slate.
Amherst opens its season with a dual match against Williams on Sept. 24 before participating in the ITA Championships hosted by Bates College on Sept. 30-Oct. 2. The Lord Jeffs will then travel to Middlebury, Vt. for the Gail Smith Doubles Tournament on Oct. 8-9 before hosting the NEWITT on Oct. 14-16 to close out their fall schedule.