Amherst Falls Short of Title Match Bid With 5-4 Loss to Emory

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FREDERICKSBURG, VA – The top-ranked Amherst College women’s tennis team took on the Eagles of Emory University this morning in the first National Semifinal of the 2010 NCAA Division III Tournament. Amherst came up just one win short of reaching the title match for the second straight season, and will play against Chicago in tomorrow’s Consolation Match at 9 a.m.

Amherst advanced out of yesterday’s National Quarterfinal Round with a convincing 5-0 win over Carnegie Mellon University, while Emory topped Denison 5-2. In the other quarterfinal matches, University of Chicago defeated Pomona-Pitzer 5-1, and Williams College topped Gustavus Adolphus 5-0. Williams and Emory will meet for the national championship tomorrow at 1 p.m.

The Lord Jeffs and Eagles had met six times in NCAA Championship play prior to today, with Emory holding a 5-1 series lead over Amherst. The Lord Jeffs topped the Eagles in the Elite 8 in 2000, but suffered season-ending losses in 1996, 2001, 2002, 2004 and 2005. After playing one another five times in a six year window, these two national powers had not met in five years.

In doubles play, both the number one and three matches were split in landslide fashion as each team earned a point. At number one, the third-ranked doubles team out of the South region topped Amherst’s Brittany Berckes (Secaucus, NJ) and Laura Danzig (Allendale, NY) by an 8-3 score. At number three, Amherst’s Caroline Richman (Pacific Palisades, CA) and Carlissa King (Bayside, NY) routed Lindsay Reidenbach and Jordan Wylie by an 8-0 score to tie the match 1-1.

The tipping point before heading into singles play would be left to Amherst’s Jill Wexler (Beverly, MA) and Natasha Brown (Woodland Hills, CA) and Emory’s Sabra Rogers and Tshema Nash at number two. The match was deadlocked at 5-5, and again at 6-6 as neither team could break through for a lead. Rogers and Nash took a 7-6 lead, but Wexler and Brown answered right back with a win over their own to tie at 7-7. With momentum on the line, Emory’s pair won the final two games to take the match 9-7, giving the Eagles a 2-1 lead after doubles.

In singles action, Amherst would have to take four of the six matches to advance into the National Championship for the second straight year. Amherst came up just one win short, taking three of the singles wins. Berckes outlasted Zahra Dawson in a three-set thriller, winning 7-5, 1-6, 6-2 at number one. Laken King (Bayside, NY) cruised to a 6-0 second-set result after edging Sara Vrabec 7-5 in the first stanza. Carlissa King pulled out a three-set victory as well, winning 7-5, 4-6, 6-4. Emory’s singles wins came at number two, four and five. Laura Danzig came up on the wrong end of a 6-4, 6-1 result, while Wexler and Brown each lost in tough three set matches.

Amherst’s Berckes and Danzig will each compete in the doubles and singles tournaments, which open play on Friday.