GREENVILLE, R.I. – Competing against a Division I team for the first time in program history, the No. 24 women's tennis team had several impressive individual results over the weekend. The Judges lost, 6-1, to Bryant University at Rally Point in Rhode Island and now stand at 1-4 on the season. Bryant, which competes in the Northeast Conference and features a roster of scholarship athletes, improves to 5-2.
"It was a great opportunity to see where we are at and where we'd like to ultimately get to," head coach Ben Lamanna said.
The highlight for the Judges came at No. 5 singles, where sophomore Emily Eska (Princeton, Mass./Wachusett Regional) defeated Bryant rookie Briana Leonard, 5-7, 6-1, 11-9. After losing a back-and-forth first set, Eska dominated the second set and grinded out a close win in the tiebreaker.
"That was a great win for Emily," Lamanna said. "She hung in there and really kept battling against a tough opponent."
Junior All-American Carley Cooke (San Diego, Calif./Point Loma) came close to a huge point at No. 1 singles but couldn't close out the match. Cooke won the first set, 7-5, and had four match points in the second. Bryant rookie Marion Bouillin stepped up each time, rallying for a 5-7, 7-6(7-4), 10-5 victory.
Brandeis lost the other four singles matches in straight sets. Senior Alexa Katz (Philadelphia, Pa./Abington Friends) fought an extremely close first set at No. 6, but ultimately lost, 7-6(13-11), 6-1.
Seniors Allyson Bernstein (Northbrook, Ill./Glenbrook North) and Roberta Bergstein (Hingham, Mass./Hingham) each pushed sets to the brink, but lost, 6-1, 6-4 and 6-4, 6-1, at No. 2 and No. 4, respectively. Senior Simone Vandroff (Moss Beach, Calif./Half Moon Bay) fell at No. 3, 6-0, 6-0.
Unlike Division III (where each of the three doubles matches count for one point), a single point is awarded in Division I doubles to the school that wins at least two out of the three matches. Bryant swept the doubles competition against Brandeis to earn the point.
The duo of Cooke and Vandroff at No. 1 came close to winning for the Judges. Cooke and Vandroff were tied, 5-5 with Bryant junior Rosie Bird and rookie Ryan Brown, but the Bulldogs finished strong down the stretch to win, 8-5. Bergstein and sophomore Sarita Biswas (Bedford, Mass./Bedford) battled at No. 3, but ultimately fell, 8-6. Bernstein and senior Marissa Lazar (Hewlett, N.Y./Lynbrook) lost, 8-3, at No. 2.
The Judges face another stiff competition this weekend, when they will travel to Vermont to compete at the Middlebury Invitational. Bryant has a tournament in Puerto Rico beginning next Monday.