MANCHESTER, N.H. – No. 3-seed District of Columbia sneaked past No. 6-seed Adelphi 5-4 in the NCAA East Regional quarterfinal on Saturday. The Firebirds will advance to play No. 2 seed and tournament host, Southern New Hampshire on Sunday.
The Firebirds (16-3), champions of the East Coast Conference and playing in the program’s first East Regional tournament, won two of the three doubles matches, then withstood a furious Panther comeback which saw Adelphi claim three of the six singles matches. Similar to UDC’s 5-4 victory against Adelphi back on March 11th, the Firebirds clinched the match on the strength of a clutch, singles victory by senior leader, Maria Vitkina.
In doubles play, Kristyna Nepivodova and Maxime Duijst got the Firebirds off to a great start with a dominant, 8-0 victory at No. 2 doubles. Sofia Leon and Tadai Abilla were then defeated 8-2 at third doubles, but the Firebirds’ No. 1 duo of Jessica Nunez and Maria Vitkina came through with an 8-4 win to give UDC a 2-1 advantage heading into singles play.
Adelphi’s Carolyn Smith set the tone for the Panthers in the singles portion of the match by defeating Abilla, 6-1, 6-2 at the sixth slot. Nepivodova answered for the Firebirds with a quick and decisive, 6-0, 6-1 win at No. 2 singles, and Duijst followed with a gritty, 6-4, 6-4 win at No. 4 singles to put District of Columbia one singles win away from a NCAA regional semifinal berth.
But the Panthers came roaring back with wins at No. 1 and No. 5 singles to tie the match, 4-4, and suddenly the Firebirds’ fate rested in the hands of the team’s senior leader, Maria Vitkina. The hero of the match with the decisive fifth singles victory in UDC’s 5-4 victory against Adelphi back on March 11th, Vitkina once again came through with a remarkable win in a marathon battle versus Adelphi’s Samra Redzematovic, 4-6 (10-8), 7-6 (7-3), 7-6.