Women#039;s tennis takes out Emmanuel in GNACs

by Beacon Staff • October 29, 2008

The Emerson College women's tennis team had been here before. The foe was the same. They had even seen them in the playoffs already. And until Oct. 23, the result had been the same, too.

The tables were turned, however, as the fifth-seeded Lions faced conference rival and fourth-seeded Emmanuel College of Boston in the quarterfinals of the Great Northeast Athletic Conference Championship Tournament, and upset them, 5-3. The match was played at the Buckingham, Browne Nichols school in Cambridge, Mass.

The Saints had eliminated the Lions in the quarterfinals of last year's tournament.

"Last year, we won the first game in the regular season, then lost in the playoffs," sophomore Kailey Smith, who is undeclared, said. "This year, after we lost the first matchup [in the regular season] I said that the playoff result was going to be reversed."

The win did give the team a sense of revenge, said junior Kayleigh Holt.

"It was definitely a redemption game," the writing, literature and publishing major said. "They are always good competition but we played a lot better this year against them."

In the previous playoff matchup Emerson was the fourth seed of the tournament and Emmanuel was the fifth, making the underdog the victor in both games. Head Coach Mason Astley joked that the key to winning the matchup may lie in the final standings.

"I'll line up for the fifth seed again next year I guess," Astley said.

The two teams also squared off in the regular season, on Oct. 4, and Emerson lost the matchup, 4-5.

"We didn't play our best last time around," Astley said. "We knew we probably would see them again, so we said we would focus on the next time."

Astley shook up his lineup a little. In doubles, he paired junior Kayleigh Holt with freshman Zara Neifield and junior Kate Sitarz with sophomore Kelly McCarthy. Last time, Holt teamed with Sitarz and McCarthy with Neifield. The switch yielded no new result, as the teams split the first two doubles matches again, but Sitarz and Neifield both won their singles matchups this time.

The turning point of the match came after the doubles matches, Niefield said.

"We were down after doubles," the radio major said, "so we knew we had to win in singles."

Sitarz and Niefield both played well, Astley said.

"They played different people compared to the last time, but they did great. They put us in a position where we only had to win one of the last two singles matches."

They got that win from Chrissy Laboissonniere, who was a 6-2, 6-3 victor.

Astley and his players all said they needed more work on their doubles games in order to go further in the tournament.

"We worked a lot on singles early in the year," Holt said. "We are doing a lot of doubles now, we need to in order get more points. Plus, a lot of other teams don't really work on it."

Astley was more critical of their performance.

"Our doubles didn't play quite as well as we hoped," Astley said. "We need to come out of the gate ready to go and tighten things up."

With the victory, Emerson moved on to the semifinals on Oct. 25 against top seed Simmons College of Boston, who they lost to 8-1 earlier in the year. The game was played at the Winchester Indoor Lawn Tennis Center in Winchester, Mass.

"I don't think the [Simmons] score was a true indicator of how we played," Smith said. "We had six games that were close that could've gone either way."

A trip to the championship game was not meant to be, however, as the Lions were defeated by a score of 7-2. The loss ended the season for the team, which finished 6-7.

"Simmons is a tough team who had a great recruiting class," Astley said. "They are a powerhouse. We are improving as a team, but we're just not there yet. It's all a part of the process."