October 19, 2013

Women's Tennis Clinches Little East Playoff Spot In Dramatic Fashion Behind 6-3 Win over Plymouth State

PLYMOUTH, N.H.—UMass Boston women's tennis is going back to the Little East Tournament for the first time since 2011 behind their first-ever victory over Plymouth State University.

Knowing that a 6-3 win would assure them a playoff spot no matter what happened elsewhere, the Beacons (6-9, 3-5) dealt the Panthers (6-6-, 3-5) a season-ending 6-3 loss Saturday afternoon at the P.E. Tennis Courts.

The Beacons, Panthers and the University of Southern Maine all finished the regular-season tied at 3-5, but Southern Maine earned the fifth seed due to a tiebreaker, and UMass Boston picked up the sixth and final slot due to their head-to-head win against Plymouth.

UMass Boston will travel to intra-state rival UMass Dartmouth Tuesday at 3pm for the Little East Conference Tournament Quarterfinals. The Corsairs earned a 5-4 victory at the UMD Tennis Courts during the regular season, despite falling behind 3-1.

Strong doubles play led to the Beacons first three-game Little East winning streak in over a decade, as UMass Boston earned a sweep of the doubles action Saturday. 

Nuha Muntasser (Braintree, Mass.) and Solveig Castelli (Precojo, France) started the Beacons off on the right foot when they downed Jane Duggan and Chelsea Thibeault 8-5 at number two doubles.

Senior co-captains Anitra Kloczewiak (Newton, Mass.) and Samantha Counts (Bridgewater, Mass.) put UMass Boston ahead 2-0, behind an 8-2 win at top-flight doubles.

The Beacons completed the sweep at number three doubles, as Kelsey Shea (West Bridgewater, Mass.) and Logan Smith (Southwick, Mass.) picked up their first Little East Conference win of the season as a pair, winning 8-6 over Plymouth State's Rachel Gustafson and Peyton Smith.

UMass Boston quickly clinched the victory behind their top two players in the singles lineup.

Kloczewiak finished off her personal sweep of number two singles in Little East play (8-0) with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Jane Duggan. The victory also marked the senior's program-record setting 22nd win of the season, the most victories for any UMB women's tennis player in a single year.

Muntasser put the Beacons back into the playoffs for the second time in the past five years, when she completed her 6-2, 6-1 victory over Nitsa Ioannides at number one singles. The leading candidate for the Little East Conference Rookie of the Year Award finishes the regular season with 18 wins, tied for eight-most in a single season in program history.

Plymouth State's top freshman Nikki Lund got the Panthers on the scoreboard at number three doubles, as she handed Counts a 6-0, 6-3 loss.

Thibeault cut the Beacons lead to 5-2, when she knocked off Castelli 6-2, 6-4 at number four singles.

With the Beacons still in the dark about the rest of the conference results, Shea made the playoff spot official, when she earned a dramatic victory at number six singles. The freshman overcame two set points in the first set to earn a 7-5, 6-3 win that set off the UMass Boston celebration. Shea's victory gave her 11 for the season, tied for the third-most of any Beacon on the team.

Gustafson closed out the Panthers season with a win, when she outlasted Kathleen Conroy (Quincy, Mass.) 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 at number four singles. 

The win was UMass Boston's first win in 13 tries against the Panthers, as Plymouth State had entered the match a perfect 12-0 dating back to 2001.