Amherst Claims Three Titles at New England Tournament

SOUTH HADLEY, MA – The Amherst College women's tennis team was expected to shine at the 2007 New England Women's Intercollegiate Tennis Tournament Division III Championships, and the Lord Jeffs did just that. Every Amherst singles player or doubles pair advanced to at least the semifinals of their respective bracket, with one doubles team and two singles players claiming championships.

Defending national champions Alicia Menezes (Staten Island, NY) and Brittany Berckes (Secaucus, NJ) demonstrated why they earned a No. 1 seed in the first flight of doubles competition. After receiving a first-round bye, the Amherst pair cruised to an 8-1 win over a duo from Colby College and edged out a tough pair from Wellesley College, 8-6, before taking down the No. 3 seed in the semifinals.

The 8-2 win over third-seeded MIT placed Menezes and Berckes in the championship match with second-seed Cary Gibson and Grace Baljon of Williams College. The much-anticipated finals match lived up to expectations, with Amherst edging out a 9-7 win for the title.

Also earning a No. 1 seed was the Amherst pair of Laura Stein (Rockport, ME) and Jennifer Murphy (Simsbury, CT) in the third flight of doubles action. Stein and Murphy also received a first-round bye and before long advanced to the semifinals with consecutive 8-2 wins. The No. 3 seed from Wellesley College gave the Jeffs a tough match, but Amherst held on for a 9-8(5) victory to advance to the championship match with the first-year duo of Nicole Reich and Lucy Marchese of Williams. The young Eph duo proved to be more talented than age indicated, as they took home an 8-2 victory. 

Monica Snyder (Newton, MA) and Jill Wexler (Beverly, MA) faced some tough competition to kick off the second flight of doubles action, as the Amherst pair fell to the unseeded eventual champion from Tufts University, Meghan McCooey and Miranda Young, 8-4. McCooey and Young wound up breezing past the bracket's No. 4 seed in the quarterfinals and No. 2 seed in the semifinals before knocking off the top seed in the championship match.

Singles play brought similar success to Amherst, as all six of the Lord Jeff players found themselves in the semifinals on Sunday. Menezes, the No. 2 seed in the first flight, cruised to a 6-0, 6-1 win after a first-round bye and then a 6-2,6-0 victory in the quarterfinals to set up a semifinal match with third-seed Kristen Raymond of Bowdoin College. Unfortunately, Menezes suffered an injury and was unable to proceed, as Raymond moved on to eventually win the bracket.

First-year standout Laken King (Laurelton, NY) earned the No. 4 seed in the second flight and kicked off her tournament with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Trinity College's Robyn Williams. King followed up with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Liz Denys of MIT, setting up a semifinal showdown with McCooey, but the Tufts standout was able to move past the young Jeff with a 6-4, 6-1 win.

As the No. 2 seed in the third flight, Berckes had no trouble advancing to the semifinals, as she picked up a 6-0, 6-0 second-round win and a 6-1, 6-4 victory in the quarterfinals. Berckes met up with third-seed Julia Brown of Tufts, who took down the Amherst star, 7-5, 6-3, but fell in the finals to Marchese.

Also earning a No. 2 seed and having no trouble reaching the semifinals was Snyder in the fourth flight. Snyder lost just three games in her first two matches combined, cruising to a 6-1, 6-1 victory to begin her singles play and then knocking off Catherine Hill-Lydecker of Smith College, 6-1, 6-0, to advance to the semifinals with fourth-seed Erica Miller of Tufts. Snyder strolled into the finals with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Miller, and handily defeated Reich, 6-1, 6-4, for her team's second title.

King's sister, Carlissa (Laurelton, NY), has also been a standout in her rookie campaign, as she was named the No. 1 seed in the fifth flight. Carlissa lost just two games in her first two matches combined before advancing to the championship match with a 7-5, 6-1 win over Mackenzie Gallegos of Brandeis, but Ashley Parsons of Williams overmatched the young Amherst player, 6-0, 6-0.

Rounding out the Amherst singles players was Murphy in the sixth flight. As the No. 2 seed, Murphy was unblemished in her first two matches, as she earned a pair of 6-0, 6-0 victories to meet up with fourth-seed Stephanie Langer of Bowdoin in the semifinals. Murphy earned a 6-2, 6-3 win over Langer to set up yet another Amherst/Williams title match with No. 1 seed Annie Schneiderman. Murphy dropped a close first set, 4-6, but came back to win a tight second set, 7-5, and breeze through the third set, 6-1, to hand the Jeffs their third title of the weekend.

The tournament marked the end of Amherst's fall season, as the Lord Jeffs will hope to pick up where they left off and have another successful spring season. With the majority of last year's national runner-up team returning and the addition of several outstanding first-years, the Jeffs will be looking to make another run at a national title.