Tufts defeats Skidmore 5-3 to claim spot in NCAA regional finals
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. -- Due to early-morning showers, the first match of the day between Tufts and Skidmore was moved indoors to the Lansing-Chapman Rink. The Jumbos were trying to extend their stay in their 14th consecutive NCAA tournament appearance, and in spite of going down 2-1 after an intense doubles portion, they were able to overcome the Thoroughbreds in the singles portion, taking the match 5-3 and claiming the first spot in the regional finals.
The Thoroughbreds managed to come out on top at the end of the doubles portion after three grueling matches. They managed to snag the first point of the match at two-doubles, as the Thoroughbred pairing of Rachel Plevinsky and Zoe Valella were able to gain a break-advantage late in the match against the Jumbo tandem of Samantha Gann and Alexa Meltzer, and then they consolidated it to close the match out by the margin of 8-5. Both matches on the other two courts went deep into their pro-sets, but the Jumbos were able to equalize the match at 1-1, after the Jumbo combination of Shelci Bowman and Jacqueline Baum did just enough to edge out the Thoroughbred duo of Lee Ford and Madeline Benn at the No. 1 position. The match-advantage going into singles came down to three-doubles, as the two teams exchanged blows all the way to the 8-all tiebreaker, where the Thoroughbred combo of Melissa Hirsch and Yumi Karlshoej were able to outlast the Jumbo pair of Conner Calabro and Chelsea Hayashi 7-4.
The Jumbos were not demoralized by their tough tiebreaker loss in doubles, however, as they came out in singles and won the first three matches off the court. First, Callabro leveled the match at two points apiece, as she she dropped only four games at the number three position on her way to a comfortable 6-2, 6-2 victory versus Benn. Shortly after drawing level, the Jumbos took the lead through Meltzer, as she staved off Hirsch in a long first set that she took 6-4, before cruising to a smooth 6-0 second set. The Jumbos found themselves needing only one more point to clinch the match just minutes later when Bowman shut down Valella in both sets, putting in a clinical performance to take the match 6-4, 6-3.
With their lead having vanished, the Thoroughbreds found themselves with their backs against the wall. Ford was able to keep the Thoroughbreds in the match, as she stayed mentally tough to take down Gann in three sets 6-3, 3-6, 6-2. It turned out, however, that the Thoroughbreds were only delaying the inevitable as the Jumbos' Rebecca Kimmel dismissed the Thoroughbreds' Robyn Baird in straight sets 6-0, 6-1 to clinch the match for the Jumbos.
With the win, the Jumbos book their spot in the NCAA regional finals, which is set to start at 1 p.m. ET Sunday. The Jumbos play Williams.