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Several Minutewomen start tennis season with wins at Eastern Collegiate Invitational

The Massachusetts tennis team got its season off on the right track at the Eastern Collegiate Invitational this weekend. The doubles pairs were the stars during the event as junior Candynce Boney and senior Maude Lecluyse teamed up to win the No. 1 doubles title.  The team of Tanisha Hodgson and Jocelyn Providence battled back from a tough first-round loss to win the second doubles consolation bracket as well.

Singles play was also strong for the Minutewomen, as three players reached the semifinals of the main draw. All three players eventually lost to the eventual champions of their respective brackets.

Boney and Lecluyse defeated teams from Pittsburgh, St. John’s, Cornell and Binghamton on their way to the title.

Magdalena Ploch, the Atlantic 10 Most Outstanding Rookie Perfomer and a First Team All-Conference Performer last season, played in the No. 1 singles slot during the event for the Minutewomen. Ploch defeated Katie Haught of West Virginia with her strong ground strokes 6-0, 6-1 in the second round after a first round bye. The natural lefty then defeated the No. 6 seed from Quinnipiac, Mary Wilson 7-6(6), 7-6(6) in an extremely close match that came down to two tiebreakers in the quarterfinals.

 In the semifinals, Ploch started strong by taking the first set 6-1 against Long Island’s Selma Babic. Babic won the second set, and eventually won the match with a 10-7 tiebreaker victory. Babic went on to win the No. 1 singles title.

At No. 2 Singles, freshman Julia Comas defeated Nakita Austin of St. Johns 6-1, 6-1 and Ashley Pilsbury of West Virginia 6-1, 6-3 in the first two rounds of the tournament.  She then beat Jillian Santos 6-3, 6-2 to gain entrance into the semifinals, but she ran into trouble against CC Sardinha  No. 1 of Syracuse. Sardinha defeated Comas 6-3, 6-3, and went on to win the No. 2 singles bracket.

Karen Carpenter also reached the semifinals at No. 3 singles, beating Rachel McGowan of Duquesne 7-6(0), 6-3 and Karina Cordero-Martinez of Seton Hall 6-1, 62. She then earned her way into the semifinals by defeating Demi Iepuras of Bucknell 6-2, 6-2. Carpenter could not overcome No. 1 seed Emily Harman of No. 1 Syracuse, who went on to win the No. 3 singles title.

Gabriella Jannotta and Chantal Swiszcz played No. 4 singles for UMass, with Swiscz reaching the quarterfinals.

Hodgson and Providence’s road to victory included victories over Marist, Niagra and No. 5 West Virginia.

 “I think we did really well. I’m really pleased,” said UMass coach Judy Dixon. “This is the deepest team I’ve ever had. In each division, we did really well. I feel very confident that this team could be one of the best I’ve ever had.”

Dixon was also pleased with how her players jelled in their first match of the season.

“Team chemistry is very good,” said Dixon. “It bodes well for us.”

The Minutewomen play next at Holy Cross on Oct. 1 at 1 p.m.

Ben Lambert can be reached at wlambert@student.umass.edu.

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