WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. – The Amherst College women's tennis team knocked off top-ranked Williams College on Sunday morning, giving the Lord Jeffs the eighth NESCAC Championship title in program history.
The Lord Jeffs had lost to Williams twice during the regular season, but Amherst won two doubles matches and put in a dominant performance in singles play against the No. 1 team in Division III. The Jeffs were on pace for a 7-2 final, as they held comfortable leads in the two singles matches that didn't finish.
Sunday marked the seventh consecutive year in which Amherst and Williams squared off in the NESCAC finals, with the Lord Jeffs knocking off their rivals in each of the first five (2006-10). The Ephs returned the favor in 2011, but on Sunday Amherst became the only Division III team to beat Williams in 2012.
Amherst—ranked third in the country and seeded second in the tournament—will earn the NESCAC's automatic bid to the NCAA Championship, while the Ephs (19-2) will likely earn an at-large selection as the four-time defending national champions.
The Lord Jeffs have been excelling in doubles play throughout the spring, and Sunday was no exception. The Ephs would strike first, though, as Kristin Alotta and Kathleen Elkins cruised to an 8-2 win over sophomores Jennifer Newman and Zoe Pangalos at number two.
Amherst responded with an 8-5 win in the third matchup, as Caroline Richman '13 and Safi Aly '15 got past Nancy Worley and Caroline Capute. Richman and Aly are 9-0 as a duo since Apr. 14, with Richman improving to 15-0 in doubles play this year.
The top doubles bout would also finish with an 8-5 score, and it was Amherst's Laura Danzig '12 and Gabby Devlin '14 who came out on the winning end against Kara Shoemaker and Taylor French. Danzig and Devlin improved to 6-1 in their last seven, as the Lord Jeffs have carried a lead into singles play in 16 of 17 matches this spring.
Elkins tied things up at 2-2 with a straight-set win over Pangalos in the fourth singles match (6-1, 6-2), but that would be the final point of the day for Williams. Devlin handed the lead back to Amherst with her second victory of the weekend, breezing past Curran at number five (6-4, 6-1).
The only match that required three sets came at number two, where Newman improved to 15-2 by defeating Shoemaker in a hard-fought battle (6-2, 4-6, 6-3). Richman secured Amherst's title in the third match, bumping her win streak to six in singles play with a 6-2, 6-3 result against Worley.
Danzig was on the verge of defeating Alotta in the top singles match, as she held a 5-2 lead in the third set after the first two sets had been split. Aly was also nearing a win at number six, defeating Capute in a first-set tiebreaker (7-3) before taking a 4-3 lead in the second set.
Amherst will be making its 18th consecutive appearance in the NCAA Championship, having posted a 41-19 record in the tournament's history. The Lord Jeffs defeated Williams for the 1999 national title, but the Ephs returned the favor in 2009 and 2011.
The NCAA Regional Championships will begin Friday, May 11. More information will be posted on Monday when the tournament's participants and regional host sites are announced.
No. 2 Amherst def. No. 1 Williams, 5-2
1. Laura Danzig/Gabby Devlin (A) def. Kara Shoemaker/Taylor French (W), 8-5
2. Kristin Alotta/Kathleen Elkins (W) def. Jennifer Newman/Zoe Pangalos (W), 8-2
3. Caroline Richman/Safi Aly (A) def. Nancy Worley/Caroline Capute (W), 8-5
1. Laura Danzig (A) leads Kristin Alotta (W) 6-2, 3-6, 5-2
2. Jennifer Newman (A) def. Kara Shoemaker (W) 6-2, 4-6, 6-3
3. Caroline Richman (A) def. Nancy Worley (W) 6-2, 6-3
4. Kathleen Elkins (W) def. Zoe Pangalos (A) 6-1, 6-2
5. Gabby Devlin (A) def. Rebecca Curran (W) 6-4, 6-1
6. Safi Aly (A) leads Caroline Capute (W) 7-6(3), 4-3
2012 NESCAC Women's Tennis Championship
Hosted by Williams College * Friday-Sunday, May 4-6
First Round - Friday, May 4
No. 4 Bowdoin def. No. 5 Tufts, 5-4
No. 3 Middlebury def. No. 6 Trinity, 6-0
Semifinals - Saturday, May 5
No. 1 Williams def. No. 4 Bowdoin, 5-1
No. 2 Amherst def. No. 3 Middlebury, 5-3
Championship Match - Sunday, May 6
No. 2 Amherst def. No. 1 Williams, 5-2