NCAA Division III: Williams Takes Bowdoin 5-3 in Tennis Semifinals

By Scott SheltonWilliams Sports Info
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BRUNSWICK, Maine — The NESCAC semifinals for women’s tennis were held on the campus of Bowdoin College on Saturday morning. With their win over Trinity on Friday, the hosts booked their place in the semifinals against the Ephs.

The Polar Bears put in a valiant effort to stretch four matches to third sets in singles, but they fell just short of redeeming their 7-2 loss to the Ephs just last weekend with the Ephs pulling out the 5-3 victory and claiming their spot in Sunday’s final.

The Ephs and Polar Bears played out two close doubles matches during the doubles portion, after Williams had taken the first double point from Court 2 with relative ease, as Eph senior Kathleen Elkins and junior Maria Pylypiv eased past Polar Bear senior Kate Winingham and freshman Samantha Stalder 8-2. The Ephs and Polar Bears exchanged blows in the remaining two doubles matches, as the Polar Bears managed to equalize the overall score with a win at three-doubles, before the Ephs claimed the last doubles point.

The Polar Bear pairing of freshman Pilar Giffenig and sophomore Tiffany Cheng managed to outlast freshman Linda Shin and sophomore Alex Stone 8-5, before the Eph duo of senior Kara Shoemaker and sophomore Rebecca Curran returned the same scoreline to the Polar Bears to give the Ephs the advantage going into singles with an 8-5 win over senior Emma Lewis and senior Joulia Likhanskaia.

The Polar Bears did not roll over in singles, however, as they showed outstanding resolve to make it difficult for the Ephs. Pylypiv got the Ephs off and going at three-singles as she downed Winingham in straight sets 6-4, 6-1 to stretch the Ephs’ lead to 3-1. Eph freshman Hannah Atkinson followed suit not too long after as she put in a clinical showing at the number six position, routinely taking care of Polar Bear freshman 6-4, 6-4.

With the Ephs only needing one point to clinch their place in the finals, the Polar Bears fought hard with their backs against the wall, drawing all four of the rest of the matches into deciding sets. Eph sophomore Monica Pastor took the first set easily off Lewis, but Lewis refused to give up as she fought back to take the match for the Polar Bears, winning the last two sets 6-4, 6-2 getting the Polar Bears on the scoreboard in singles. Likhanskaia put even more pressure on the Ephs after she managed to pull out a back-and-forth three-set victory over Shoemaker 6-3, 2-6, 6-1.

With the match score at 4-3 in favor of the Ephs, the pressure was on Curran, who had taken the first set relatively comfortably 6-2 off of Stalder, but Stalder pushed Curran hard in the second, managing to equalize the match at one set apiece after stealing the set 8-6 in a tiebreaker. Curran was not dismayed, however, as she hanged tough in the third set, outlasting Stalder 6-4 to lock up the Ephs' place in the finals tomorrow morning.

After the match, Eph head coach Alison Swain praised the quality of the match overall: "Both teams competed very well today. Bowdoin adjusted well in singles and fought hard in second sets. We did a nice job of staying calm under pressure. It was a strong team effort by all, and these close matches are great experience for us."

The Ephs play for their second NESCAC title in-a-row and their third in four years on Sunday, against the winner of the second semifinal between Middlebury and Amherst. The championship is slated to start at 9 AM EDT on Sunday morning.

Williams 5, Bowdoin 3

Likhanskaia, Joulia (BOWDOIN) def. Shoemaker, Kara (WILLIAMS) 6-3, 2-6, 6-1
Shin, Linda (WILLIAMS) v. Cheng, Tiffany (BOWDOIN) 3-6, 6-3, 4-1 DNF
Pylypiv, Maria (WILLIAMS) def. Winingham, Kate (BOWDOIN) 6-4, 6-1
Curran, Rebecca (WILLIAMS) def. Stalder, Samantha (BOWDOIN) 6-2, 6-7(6), 6-4
Lewis, Emma (BOWDOIN) def. Pastor, Monica (WILLIAMS) 1-6, 6-4, 6-2
Atkinson, Hannah (WILLIAMS) def. Silitch, Kyra (BOWDOIN) 6-4, 6-4

Shoemaker, Kara/Curran, Rebecca (WILLIAMS) def. Likhanskaia, Joulia/Lewis, Emma (BOWDOIN) 8-5
Elkins, Kathleen/Pylypiv, Maria (WILLIAMS) def. Winingham, Kate/Stalder, Samantha (BOWDOIN) 8-2
Cheng, Tiffany/Giffenig, Pilar (BOWDOIN) def. Shin, Linda/Stone, Alex (WILLIAMS) 8-5

Match Notes:
Williams 19-1, nationally ranked No. 3
Bowdoin 14-6, nationally ranked No. 7

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