Berckes Leads Amherst at ITA Championships

CAMBRIDGE, MA – The Amherst College women’s tennis team sent six singles players and three doubles pairs to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for the 2008 Intercollegiate Tennis Association New England Championships. Junior Brittany Berckes (Secaucus, NJ) led the Lord Jeffs by advancing to the semifinal round in both the singles and doubles brackets.

Five of Amherst’s singles players advanced to the third round, three advanced to the quarterfinals, and Berckes stormed through to the semifinals during what was a very successful weekend for the Jeffs. As the No. 2 seed, Berckes cruised through the opening three rounds without dropping a single set to match up with No. 6 Nicole Pontee of Vassar in the quarterfinals. Pontee took the opening set, 6-1, but the reigning NESCAC Player of the Year stormed back to win the next two sets, 6-3 and 6-1.

After knocking out Amherst players in each of the third and quarterfinal rounds, No. 3 Leslie Hansen of host MIT sent Berckes packing with a thrilling 2-6, 6-3, 7-6(4) come-from-behind victory. Hansen’s outstanding run would end there, however, as she fell to No. 4 Julia Browne of Tufts University in the championship match.

Junior Brittany Berckes advanced to the semifinals of the singles and doubles tournaments.
Joining Berckes in the quarterfinal round were teammates Natasha Brown (Woodland Hills, CA) and Laken King (Laurelton, NY), who each pulled off upsets in the third round. After dropping a combined four games in the first two rounds, Brown knocked off No. 8 Sarah D’Elia of Bowdoin, 7-6(4), 6-2, but she was next met by the tournament’s top seed, Cary Gibson of Williams. Brown gave Gibson a great match but could not pull off a second upset, as Gibson moved on to the semifinals with a 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 victory.

King’s second-round match was her closest of the weekend, as she came from behind to pull off a 3-6, 6-4, 11-9 win over Middlebury’s Tori Aiello. King then upset No. 7 Rachel Rosman of Brandeis in the third round (6-3, 6-1), but MIT’s Hansen was too much for the young Amherst star in the quarterfinals, with King exiting the tournament after a 6-3, 6-3 loss.

First-year Laura Danzig (Allendale, NY) put up a good fight against the MIT star but could not pull off an upset. After opening her weekend with a 6-0, 6-0 win over Bowdoin’s Rachel Waldman and a 7-5, 6-2 victory over Wellesley’s Jen Schwarzkopf, third-seeded Hansen prevented the upset with a 4-6, 6-2, 10-8 come-from-behind win in the third round.

Sophomore Carlissa King (Laurelton, NY) had similar success to that of Danzig, as she gave the tournament’s No. 6 seed a tough match in the third round. Vassar’s Nicole Pontee took the first set, 6-2, but Carlissa evened things up with a 6-4 win in the second set. The third frame went down to the wire, but it was Pontee who squeaked into the semifinals with a 10-8 third-set victory. Rounding out Amherst’s singles players was junior Jill Wexler (Beverly, MA), who fell to Wellesley’s Marie Watanabe in the opening round, 6-1, 6-2.

In doubles action, all three of Amherst’s pairs escaped the first round, with two advancing to the quarterfinals and one earning a spot in the semifinals. After eliminating counterparts from Bates and Williams in the first two rounds, Berckes and Brown (the No. 2 seed) earned an 8-4 win over Jen Schwarzkopf and Mohona Siddique of Wellesley in quarterfinal action. Browne, who claimed the singles title, teamed up with Meghan McCooey for a nail-biting 9-8(11) win over the Amherst pair to advance to the finals against No. 1 Cary Gibson and Nikki Reich of Williams.

Danzig and Wexler teamed up and nearly upset the tournament’s top seed, but they came up just short of joining Berckes and Brown in the semifinals. After taking care of business against pairs from Trinity and Wellesley, Danzig and Wexler pushed Williams’ Gibson and Reich to the limit, only to have the top-seeded Ephs hang on for the 9-8(2) win to claim a spot in the semifinals.

Also competing in doubles action for Amherst were senior Anuja Ankola (Scarsdale, NY) and Carlissa King, who teamed up to defeat Rebecca Friedberg and Phoebe Livingston of Clark in the opening round, 8-2. The Lord Jeffs could not reach the third round, as fourth-seeded Sarrah D’Elia and Brett Davis of Bowdoin earned an 8-4 victory.

The Lord Jeffs return to action Friday, Oct. 3 to take on Middlebury College in non-conference doubles action. Amherst’s first dual match of the year will be Saturday, Oct. 11, when the Ephs come to town for an 11 a.m. match.

Complete Tournament Results

First Round
Natasha Brown (Amherst) def. Courtney Farrell (Babson) – 6-1, 6-0
Marie Watanabe (Wellesley) def. Jill Wexler (Amherst) – 6-1, 6-2
Laken King (Amherst) def. Sarah Miller (Wesleyan) – 6-3, 6-4
Laura Danzig (Amherst) def. Rachel Waldman (Bowdoin) – 6-0, 6-0
Carlissa King (Amherst) def. Ashley Parsons (Williams) – 6-1, 6-3
#2 Brittany Berckes (Amherst) def. Rebecca Friedberg (Clark) – 6-1, 6-0

Second Round
Natasha Brown (Amherst) def. Annie Hancock (Williams) – 6-0, 6-3
Laken King (Amherst) def. Tori Aiello (Middlebury) – 3-6, 6-4, 11-9
Laura Danzig (Amherst) def. Jen Schwarzkopf (Wellesley) – 7-5, 6-2
Carlissa King (Amherst) def. Caryn Benisch (Bates) – 6-3, 6-4
#2 Brittany Berckes (Amherst) def. Emily Lombardi (Bowdoin) – 7-5, 6-2

Third Round
Natasha Brown (Amherst) def. #8 Sarah D’Elia (Bowdoin) – 7-6(4), 6-2
Laken King (Amherst) def. #7 Rachel Rosman (Brandeis) – 6-3, 6-1
#3 Leslie Hansen (MIT) def. Laura Danzig (Amherst) – 4-6, 6-2, 10-8
#6 Nicole Pontee (Vassar) def. Carlissa King (Amherst) – 6-2, 4-6, 10-4
#2 Brittany Berckes (Amherst) def. Clare Burke (Middlebury) – 6-1, 6-1

Quarterfinal Round
#1 Cary Gibson (Williams) def. Natasha Brown (Amherst) – 7-5, 4-6, 6-3
#3 Leslie Hansen (MIT) def. Laken King (Amherst) – 6-3, 6-3
#2 Brittany Berckes (Amherst) def. #6 Nicole Pontee (Vassar) – 1-6, 6-3, 6-1

Semifinal Round
#3 Leslie Hansen (MIT) def. #2 Brittany Berckes (Amherst) – 2-6, 6-3, 7-6(4)

First Round
Laura Danzig/Jill Wexler (Amherst) def. Arielle Leben/Lillian Steckloff (Trinity), 8-2
Anuja Ankola/Carlissa King (Amherst) def. Rebecca Friedberg/Phoebe Livingston (Clark), 8-2
#2 Brittany Berckes/Natasha Brown (Amherst) def. Erika Blauth/Brooke Morse-Karzen (Bates), 8-4

Second Round
Laura Danzig/Jill Wexler (Amherst) def. Grace Cheng/Marie Watanabe (Wellesley), 8-4
#4 Sarah D’Elia/Brett Davis (Bowdoin) def. Anuja Ankola/Carlissa King (Amherst), 8-4
#2 Brittany Berckes/Natasha Brown (Amherst) def. Annie Hancock/Ashley Parsons (Williams), 8-1

Quarterfinal Round
#1 Cary Gibson/Nikki Reich (Williams) def. Laura Danzig/Jill Wexler (Amherst), 9-8(2)
#2 Brittany Berckes/Natasha Brown (Amherst) def. Jen Schwarzkopf/Mohona Siddique (Wellesley), 8-4

Semifinal Round
Julia Browne/Meghan McCooey (Tufts) def. #2 Brittany Berckes/Natasha Brown (Amherst), 9-8(11)