WEYMOUTH, Mass.-- A come-from-behind 9-7 win by senior Jen Nelson (Newburyport, Mass.) and freshman Alex Hernandez (Newton, Mass.) provided the deciding point at number two doubles that lifted top-seeded Suffolk to its first-ever Great Northeast Athletic Conference women’s tennis tournament championship with a 5-4 dual-match victory over second-seeded Simmons in the 2007 league title match played late Sunday evening at the Weymouth Club.
Nelson and Hernandez (the 2007 Great Northeast Co-Rookie of the Year) battled back from a 5-2 deficit to help cap an unbeaten campaign for the host Rams, who finish the fall at 14-0 overall and earn the conference’s automatic berth into the 2008 NCAA Division III Women’s Tennis Championships that will be played next May. Nelson’s comeback efforts in both singles and doubles play provided key points for Suffolk, as the 2005 and 2006 Great Northeast Player of the Year overcame a pair of deficits to post a three-set victory at the number three singles spots.
The visiting Sharks, who entered the contest as the three-time defending conference tournament champion and finish 11-6 overall, gained a split of the three singles matches when senior Alex Yudelevich (Houston, Tex.), the 2007 Great Northeast Player of the Year, overcame a late third-set deficit to win at number one singles. Simmons took a 4-3 lead with an 8-2 win at number three doubles by senior Lauren Faber (Bethany, Conn.) and sophomore Jordan Borash (Marblehead, Mass.), but Suffolk evened matters when the tandem of junior Kellie Sturma (Newman, Ga.) and sophomore Kaitlynn Cates (Middlebury, Conn.) claimed an 8-6 triumph at number one doubles, setting the stage for the heroics of Nelson and Hernandez that gave the Rams the title.
Cates and sophomore Catarina Rosa (Fall River, Mass.) joined Nelson in posting singles wins for Suffolk, which posted its second victory over Simmons in eight days after ending the Sharks’ 37-match Great Northeast winning streak on October 20th with a 6-3 dual-match triumph that gave the Rams the league regular season crown. Cates and Rosa posted perfect marks for the fall in singles play, as Cates was 13-0 overall at the number two spot and Rosa finished 14-0 after notching a three-set win at the number five position in the title match. Faber and 2007 Co-Great Northeast Rookie of the Year Maile Macleod (Carlsbad, Calif.) joined Yudelevich in notching singles wins for Simmons, as Faber overcame a one-set deficit to defeat Hernandez at the number four spot.
“This is just a tremendous accomplishment for our players and this program,” third-year Suffolk Head Coach Steve Counihan said after the match. “I’m proud of the way we battled back at several points, and to cap an undefeated season with a championship and an NCAA bid is a great feeling for all of us.”
Sturma, Cates, Yudelevich, Simmons senior Kendra Currier, Johnson & Wales junior Olivia Molhant and Emerson sophomore Kayleigh Holt earned first-team all-Great Northeast honors for their play this fall, while Hernandez, Rosa, Simmons sophomore Dominika Hudcova, Emmanuel senior Anna Marie Podnecky, Saint Joseph (Conn.) graduate student Sarah Kowalchuk and Johnson & Wales freshman Melissa Engel comprised the second-team all-conference squad.
#1 Alex Yudelevich (SIM) def. Kellie Sturma (SUF) 6-4, 4-6, 7-5
#2 Kaitlynn Cates (SUF) def. Kendra Currier (SIM) 6-0, 6-1
#3 Jen Nelson (SUF) def. Dominika Hudcova (SIM) 2-6, 6-3, 7-6
#4 Lauren Faber (SIM) def. Alex Hernandez (SUF) 6-7, 6-4, 6-0
#5 Catarina Rosa (SUF) def. Katy Hallinan (SIM) 2-6, 6-2, 6-2
#6 Maile Macleod (SIM) def. Rachael Troia (SUF) 6-2, 6-1
#1 Sturma/Cates (SUF) def. Yudelevich/Currier (SIM) 8-6
#2 Nelson/Hernandez (SUF) def. Hudcova/Macleod (SIM) 9-7
#3 Faber/Jordan Borash (SIM) def. Rosa/Troia (SUF) 8-2