Top-Ranked Amherst Once Again Selected to Host Opening Three Rounds of NCAA Championships

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AMHERST, MA – The NCAA Division III Women’s Tennis Committee has selected the 47 teams that will compete in the 2009 NCAA Division III Women’s Tennis Championships. As one of eight regional hosts, Amherst College has earned a first-round bye and will begin its quest for a national title on Saturday, May 9.

The 47 teams will play a single-elimination tournament with the first, second and third rounds played at regional sites, May 8-10. Oglethorpe University and the Gwinnett Sports Commission will co-host the team championship finals, which will be held May 19-21 at Collins Hill Athletic Club in Lawrenceville, Georgia. Student-athletes selected to the individual championships will be announced Wednesday, May 6.

Ranked sixth by the ITA late in the season, Amherst jumped five spots to reclaim the No. 1 national ranking by defeating defending national champion Williams College twice in a span of two weeks.  The Lord Jeffs suffered a 6-3 loss to their archrivals on Oct. 11 to begin the 2008-09 season but have since won 17 consecutive matches.

Amherst’s second victory over Williams this season gave the Jeffs their fifth consecutive NESCAC title, which led to yet another automatic bid to the national tournament. Amherst has appeared in the NCAA title match three times, with the first resulting in the school’s first ever national team championship. The Jeffs returned to the finals in 2004 and 2007, finishing as the national runner-up each time.

On Saturday Amherst will take on the winner of Friday’s first-round match between Hunter College and Skidmore College. The Hawks of Hunter earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships for convincingly winning the CUNYAC Championship Tournament in the fall, but they have since posted a 1-5 record to fall to 14-8 on the year. The Thoroughbreds, meanwhile, lost in the Liberty League finals to Vassar but have earned an at-large berth to the national tournament. Amherst handed Skidmore a 5-0 loss in last year’s NCAA Regional Semifinals.  

Also receiving a first-round bye was Tufts University, which suffered a 5-2 loss to Amherst in the NESCAC semifinals and a 5-4 loss to the Jeffs during the regular season. The Jumbos feature the Northeast’s top singles player in Julia Browne and the top doubles pair of Brown and Meghan McCooey.

Tufts awaits the winner of fellow NESCAC school Bowdoin College and UMass Dartmouth. The Polar Bears and Jumbos met in the opening round of the conference championship, with Tufts earning a 5-0 win to set up its match with Amherst. Bowdoin’s exceptional 2008 NCAA Championship run included a significant upset over regional host Amherst in the third round, as the Polar Bears will be looking to find similar success in 2009. The Corsairs of Dartmouth have won 10 straight matches and earned an automatic bid for winning the Little East Conference Championship, giving them a 14-2 overall record on the year.

View a complete NCAA Division III Women’s Tennis Championship bracket to see which teams qualified for the national tournament.

2009 NCAA Division III Women’s Tennis Championships
Hosted by Amherst College
First Round – Friday, May 8
Hunter (14-8) vs. Skidmore (15-5) – 2 p.m.
Bowdoin (8-8) vs. UMass Dartmouth (14-2) – 2 p.m.

Second Round – Saturday, May 9
Amherst (17-1) vs. Winner of Hunter/Skidmore – 2 p.m.
Tufts (9-5) vs. Winner of Bowdoin/UMD – 2 p.m.

Third Round – Sunday, May 10
Saturday’s Winners – 12 p.m.

Amherst LogoTuftsUMass DartmouthBowdoinSkidmoreHunter College