WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. - For the second year in-a-row, the NESCAC Championship dual was battled out by the top two seeds from the regular season: Williams and Middlebury. While the Ephs claimed last year's NESCAC Title with a 5-0 win over the Panthers, the Vermont outfit won the two sides' regular-season encounter, 6-3. In spite of their loss to the Panthers back in April, however, the Ephs managed to claim their eighth NESCAC Title on Sunday via a 5-2 win over their top-seeded rivals at the Ephs' own indoor facility at the Lansing-Chapman Rink
The Ephs propelled themselves to a strong start in the doubles portion by tallying points on two of the three courts.
The top pairing of Linda Shin and Juli Raventos collected the win on Court 1 against Skylar Schossberger and Katherine Hughes, 8-4, just moments before Hannah Atkinson and Chloe Henderson officially doubled the Ephs' advantage on Court 2 against Kaysee Orozco and Catherine Blazye by the same margin of victory.
Facing the prospect of heading into singles down 3-0, the Panther duo of Alexandra Fields and Christina Puccinelli ensured that the Panthers remained within striking distance with six matches still to play in the singles portion by defeating Julia Cancio and Emily Zheng, 8-5.
The Ephs wasted little time in the singles portion to reassert their superiority in the dual.
Atkinson jumped out to a huge lead over Heather Boehm on Court 3, taking the first set 6-0, which she dutifully followed up with a 6-3 second set to reestablish the Ephs' two-point advantage.
Right on cue, however, the Panthers pegged the Ephs back to stay within one in the overall dual, as Blazye overcame Shin on Court 4 with a commendable 6-4, 6-2 performance to defeat the Eph senior.
With the end in sight after winning both first sets on Courts 5 and 6, the Ephs were ruthless in their closing out of the dual.
Taking motivation from her loss in doubles, Cancio quickly put that setback behind her to dismiss Maddi Stow 6-3, 6-2, bringing the Ephs to within one point of claiming their third straight NESCAC Title.
That point wouldn't take long for the Ephs to find, and Mia Gancayco delivered the finishing blow to the Panthers' title hopes, as she bested Molly Paradies 6-1, 6-4, and gave the home crowd license to celebrate.
"I'm so impressed by the level of tennis today on both sides," exalted Eph head coach Alison Swain after her team's big win. "I'm incredibly proud of our team and how we prepared for today and continued to work hard and improve all season to get to this point."
With their capture of the 2017 NESCAC Titles the Ephs claim an automatic bid into next week's NCAA Tournament. They are hopeful that they will play at home again next weekend, but they await the NCAA Tournament selection committee's decision on that front, which should be announced on Monday.
Williams 5, Middlebury 2
- Raventos, Juli/Shin, Linda (WILLIAMS) def. Hughes, Katherine/Schossberger, Skylar (MIDDLEBURY) 8-4
- Atkinson, Hannah/Henderson, Chloe (WILLIAMS) def. Blazye, Catherine/Orozco, Kaycee (MIDDLEBURY) 8-4
- Fields, Alexandra/Puccinelli, Christina (MIDDLEBURY) def. Cancio, Julia/Zheng, Emily (WILLIAMS) 8-5
- Raventos, Juli (WILLIAMS) vs. Fields, Alexandra (MIDDLEBURY) 1-0 DNF
- Bush, Leah (WILLIAMS) vs. Puccinelli, Christina (MIDDLEBURY) DNP
- Atkinson, Hannah (WILLIAMS) def. Boehm, Heather (MIDDLEBURY) 6-0, 6-3
- Blazye, Catherine (MIDDLEBURY) def. Shin, Linda (WILLIAMS) 6-4, 6-2
- Gancayco, Mia (WILLIAMS) def. Paradies, Molly (MIDDLEBURY) 6-1, 6-4
- Cancio, Julia (WILLIAMS) def. Stow, Maddi (MIDDLEBURY) 6-3, 6-2
Order of Finish:
Doubles - 1, 2, 3
Singles - 3, 4, 6, 5
Williams: 15-4, nationally ranked #4, regionally ranked #2 (Northeast)
Middlebury: 14-4, nationally ranked #2, regionally ranked #1 (Northeast)