Menezes and Berckes Claim Doubles Title at ITA Regionals

CAMBRIDGE, MA – The Amherst College women's tennis team traveled to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to compete in the Division III ITA New England Region Championships, with competition beginning Friday and concluding Sunday. Amherst had a very successful showing in both the singles and doubles brackets, but it was sophomore Brittany Berckes (Secaucus, NJ) and senior Alicia Menezes (Staten Island, NY) who stole the show by winning the doubles championship.

Berckes and Menezes, the top seed in the tournament, cruised to an 8-1 win in the opening round, but struggled with Kaitlyn and Kristen Raymond of Bowdoin College in the second round, just barely squeaking by with a 9-8(3) victory. The Amherst women followed with another 8-1 win to advance to the semifinal match, where they defeated third-seed Grace Baljon and Cary Gibson of Williams College, 8-6. In the championship match, the Jeffs clinched their title with an 8-6 win over another pair of Ephs, Nikki Reich and Allison Rottkamp, who upset two seeded pairs along the way.

Also competing in the doubles tournament was the Amherst pair of first-year Natasha Brown (Woodland Hills, CA) and sophomore Jill Wexler (Beverly, MA). Wexler spent most of her rookie campaign partnered with Katie Hudson '07, but did not seem to miss a beat in teaming up with Brown, as the Jeff pair upset second-seed Leslie Hansen and Mariah Hoover of MIT in the second round, 9-7, after cruising to an 8-2 win in their opening match. Brown and Wexler ended their run there, however, as they struggled with Reich and Rottkamp to fall 8-1.

The third Amherst pair of senior captains Jennifer Murphy (Simsbury, CT) and Laura Stein (Rockport, ME) was the only one to lose in the opening round, but the Jeffs were able to recover well. Murphy and Stein fell to Cecilia Grissa and Alexandra Piacquad of Bates College, 8-6, but then stormed through the consolation bracket by winning four consecutive matches. They did not allow more than three points until their final match, when they defeated Hayley and Miranda Young of Tufts University, 8-5, for the consolation championship.

Six Amherst women were represented in the singles championship bracket, all of whom advanced out of the opening round. While Menezes was cruising through the first three rounds as the tournament's top seed, fellow senior captain Monica Snyder (Newton, MA) was storming through as an unseeded player. One of the Jeffs' impressive runs was forced to come to an end in the quarterfinals, however, as Snyder and Menezes were set to face each other. Snyder took the first set by a score of 6-3, but Menezes took back-to-back 6-3 sets to advance to the semifinals, where her championship run ended with a 6-1, 6-2 loss to fourth-seed Baljon. 

Menezes marked the third Lord Jeff that Baljon had eliminated from the singles tournament, as the Williams star defeated Brown in the quarterfinals and first-year Laken King (Laurelton, NY) in the third round. Prior to her loss, King earned a 6-0, 6-3 win over MIT's Yi Wang and a 6-0, 6-1 victory over Smith College's Catherine Lydecker. Brown picked up three wins before facing Baljon, when she fell 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 to mark the first time in the tournament that Baljon had dropped a set to anyone.

Laken's sister, Carlissa (Laurelton, NY), earned a 6-0, 6-0 win over Springfield College's Melissa Weinstein before running into third-seed Leslie Hansen of MIT. Carlissa could not pull off the upset, as she was bounced from the tournament with a 6-2, 6-4 loss.

Berckes earned the No. 5 seed in the singles tournament, but met her match when she faced second-seed Gibson in the quarterfinals. Berckes rebounded after dropping the first set to tie the match with a 6-4 second-set win, but Gibson edged her out in the final set to cap off the 6-2, 4-6, 7-5 win.

Overall, Amherst went 11-2 in doubles matches and 16-6 in singles play against a very difficult field of players. The Lord Jeffs returned a slew of veterans from their 2006-07 team that advanced to the national championships, but their rookie class showed great potential this weekend and could play a serious role in getting back to the NCAA tournament.

Complete Tournament Results