ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. – The Brandeis University women's tennis team finished in sixth place at the 2017 University Athletic Association championships this weekend. On Friday afternoon, the Judges defeated New York University, 8-1, in the consolation finals of the tournament to earn their 15th win of the season, tying the 1980-81 squad for most dual-match wins in a season. In this morning's fifth-place match, the 19th-ranked Judges and 18th-ranked Case Western Reserve Spartans showed why they are so closely ranked, as the Spartans prevailed in a marathon 5-4 match. Brandeis ends its regular season with a record of 15-5.
HOW IT HAPPENED, CONSOLATION SEMIFINALS (#19 Brandeis 8, #31 NYU 1)
The Judges swept the singles matches against NYU to defeat the Violets for the second time this season. After Brandeis won at No. 1 and 2 doubles, 8-4 and 8-6, NYU got on the board at No. 3, 8-6.
Brandeis wasted little time in establishing their singles dominance, as junior captain Haley Cohen (Cherry Hill, N.J./Laurel Springs Acad.) won 6-0, 6-1, at No. 2. Rookie Sabrina Ross Neergaard (Port Orchard, Wash./Laurel Springs Acad.) claimed the team's second win, 6-3, 6-3, while sophomore Olivia Leavitt (Falmouth, Maine/Falmouth) took a 6-1, 6-1, decision at No. 4 to put the Judges into the fifth-place match. Sophomore Sophia He (Poughkeepsie, N.Y./Spackenkill) won the only three-set match, 6-7 (4-7), 6-1, 10-6.
HOW IT HAPPENED, FIFTH-PLACE MATCH (#18 Case Western Reserve 5, #19 Brandeis 4)
In an extremely close match between two teams ranked side-by-side in the ITA Division III National Rankings, the Judges came up a hair short against the Spartans.
CWRU took two of three doubles matches to open the scoring. Kendell Holladay and Peyton Young upended Cohen and He at No. 2, 8-4, then Jessica Liu and Nithya Kanagasegar defeated Leavitt and Ross Neergaard at No. 1, 8-5. Brandeis broke the ice at No. 3, where sophomores Keren Khromchenko (Manalapan, N.J./Allied Academy of Health and Sciences) and Michele Lehat (Great Neck, N.Y./John L. Miller Great Neck North) jumped out to a 6-2 lead on Nina Cepeda and Katrin Gurvich. The Spartan duo won four in a row to get back to 6-all, but Khromchenko and Lehat earned a break in the 13th game of the set and held on for the 8-6 win.
Brandeis quickly took the lead in singles action as Leavitt defeated Cepeda, 6-1, 6-2, at No. 4, and Lehat did not drop a game at No. 6, 6-0, 6-0, against Katie Busch. CWRU responded with straight sets wins at No. 5, where Young got the better of He again, 6-4, 6-4, and at No. 3, where Liu defeated Khromchenko with a late break in the second set, 6-3, 7-5.
The top two matches each went to third sets. At No. 1, Ross Neergaard scored an impressive first-set tiebreaker against Kanagasegar, winning 13-11. The CWRU player bounced back for a 7-5 win in the second to force a third. Meanwhile, at No. 2, Cohen took the first set from Holladay as well, 7-5, but Holladay answered in the second, 6-2. The Spartans were able to clinch the match at No. 2, where Holladay won the third, 6-1, leaving Ross Neergaard to score Brandeis's fourth point with a late service break for a 6-4 win in the third.