CLAREMONT, Calif. – Amherst began the final week of its season with a 5-1 win against Tufts in the quarterfinal round of the NCAA Division III Championship. The Lord Jeffs will take on Emory Wednesday for a spot in the 2011 title match.
Amherst improves to 19-2 on the season and 40-18 all-time in NCAA Tournament play, while the Jumbos end their impressive year at 16-6. Wednesday’s showdown between top-ranked Amherst and third-ranked Emory will be a rematch of last year’s national semifinals, which the Eagles won by a score of 5-4.
Jordan Brewer and Gabby Devlin have had a phenomenal first season as Amherst’s top doubles pair, but Tuesday’s 8-0 win over Shelci Bowman and Julia Browne was one of their most dominant performances of the year. Bowman and Browne entered the quarterfinals ranked No. 3 in the Northeast, but the Lord Jeff first-years looked unstoppable in their first appearance on the national stage.
Brewer and Devlin finished well before the rest of the field, but Tufts would eventually tie the score at 1-1 when Eliza Flynn and Lindsay Katz earned an 8-5 win over Natasha Brown and Laura Danzig at number two. Brown played extremely well down the stretch and seemed to be leading a comeback, but the Jumbos had built too large of a lead and held on for the win.
The pivotal third point provided fans with an exciting finish. Amherst’s Mimi Bell and Caroline Richman were in control for most of the match, but Tufts’ Samantha Gann and Lauren Hollender battled back to tie things up at 6-6. The Jeffs then held serve to take a 7-6 lead and closed out the 8-6 victory by breaking the Jumbos, with Richman playing phenomenally at the net and Bell holding the back line.
Carlissa King quickly gave Amherst a 3-1 advantage with her 6-1, 6-2 win over Bowman at number three, and Richman soon followed with a 6-3, 6-1 victory against Hollender in the number five matchup. Three of the remaining four singles matches had gone into a third set, but it was Devlin who wrapped things up for the Lord Jeffs by earning a 6-1, 4-6, 6-2 win over Flynn at number five.
Brewer and Browne were in the midst of a back-and-forth match in the top spot when play was stopped. Brewer came out strong and quickly put together a 6-1 win in the first set, but the defending NCAA singles champion fought back to take the second frame, 7-5. When Devlin clinched the victory for Amherst, Browne was leading the third set, 1-0.
Danzig dropped her first set to Katz at number two, 6-4, but was in the midst of a strong comeback when play was halted. Similarly, Brown fell into an early hole against Gann in the final singles match but was able to rally, earning a 6-2 win in the second set before taking a 2-0 lead in the third.