Cooke leads #24 women past Whitter, 5-4, in spring season opener

Carley Cooke '15 (photo by Adam Levin)

WHITTIER, Calif. -- The Brandeis University women's tennis team opened its spring 2014 season with a 5-4 win over the Whittier College Poets on Tuesday evening in the first of a three-match West Coast swing. The 24th-ranked Judges improve to 1-1, while Whittier falls to the same record.

      For Brandeis, junior All-American Carley Cooke (San Diego, Calif./Point Loma) was the difference maker at No. 1 singles. After spending her fall semester abroad, Cooke returned to the courts and survived a three-set match from Whittier's Maegan Zamilpa. After dropping the first set, 5-7, Cooke bounced back to win the last two, 7-5, 6-3, and rally the Judges to victory.

      Brandeis fell behind 2-1 after doubles action. The top tandem of Cooke and classmate Simone Vandroff (Moss Beach, Calif./Half Moon Bay) fell to Zamilpa and Adrienne Hamada, 8-5, and senior Roberta Bergstein (Hingham, Mass./Hingham) and sophomore Sarita Biswas (Bedford, Mass./Bedford) lost an 8-4 decision at No. 3. Seniors Marissa Lazar (Hewlett, N.Y./Lynbrook) and Allyson Bernstein (Northbrook, Ill./Glenbrook North) were able to get the Judges on the board at No. 2, 8-4.

      Coach Ben Lamanna's squad rallied in singles action, winning the first four matches to conclude. Bergstein rolled to a 6-1, 6-0, victory over Liliana Serylo at No. 4, while sophomore Emily Eska (Princeton, Mass./Wachusett Regional) took a first-set tiebreaker at No. 5 to help earn Brandeis's third point, 7-6 (7-5), 6-1. The Poets' Gabi Etchegaray topped Vandroff, 6-3, 6-3, at third singles to knot the match at 3-3. Bernstein completed a 2-0 day with a 6-3, 6-1, win over Hamada at No. 2 singles to put Brandeis within one point and two three-set matches still on the court. Whittier's Alexis Augustin evened the match at 4-4 with a 2-6, 6-4, 6-2 win over Brandeis senior Alexa Katz (Philadelphia, Pa./Abington Friends), setting the stage for Cooke's heroics.

The Judges are back in action on Thursday afternoon against the 28th-ranked University of La Verne in the second of three West Coast matches.