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UMass prepares for match against Long Island

The Massachusetts tennis team returns to action this afternoon against Long Island University at the United States Tennis Association Tennis Center in New York.

The Blackbirds are the defending Northeast Conference champions and were selected by conference coaches to finish second this season. They return four singles competitors from that squad, including NEC Player of the Year Selma Babic. Their record currently stands at 1-0, after a victory over Albany last weekend.

Last year, they ended up with a 10-8 overall record, including a perfect 3-0 mark in conference competition.

This record included a 6-1 loss to UMass on Feb. 1st in Amherst. The Minutewomen cruised in the encounter, winning every doubles match on their way to victory. The only winner for the Blackbirds was Babic, who defeated junior Candynce Boney, 6-2, 6-4.

Boney earned measure of revenge though, as she teamed with senior Maude Lecluyse to defeat Babic and sophomore Dara Lahens.

Other notable winners for UMass included junior Kaitlyn Carpenter, who beat Ashley Harvey, 7-5, 7-6 (1) in the closest match of the day at No. 2 singles, and a victory for the team of Laura Danai and junior Tanisha Hodgson at No. 2 doubles.

The match will feature a rematch from the Sept. 25 Eastern Championships as well, as Babic will face off with UMass No. 1 singles competitor Magdalena Ploch.

Babic defeated Ploch 1-6, 6-1, 10-7 in a hotly contested match last time out.
Both players come into the match on hot streaks. Ploch has been dominant this year, posting a 4-1 record in dual match play. The only loss came against Yale and the No. 9 player in the northeast, Stephanie Kent.

Ploch was ranked tenth in the northeast in an Intercollegiate Tennis Assocation preseason poll, and was named the UMass Athlete of the Week in November for her work at the ITA Regional Championships. Ploch dispatched the No. 14 seed Annie Houghton of Army, who is a two-time Patriot League Champion.

She also knocked off the No. 3 seed from Harvard, Hideko Tachibana, 6-2, 6-2. Tachibana held a 12-0 record with three tournament titles going into that match.

Babic was dominant last year in the NEC as Player of the Year, with a 16-1 mark in dual match play. Since she transferred from Clemson two years ago, Babic racked up 11 NEC Player of the Week awards.

This year, she was solid out of the block with five straight singles victories in tournament and dual match play.

The Minutewomen are 1-1 coming into this match after splitting two contests against Yale and Siena this weekend. After a 7-0 loss at the hands of the No. 44 Bulldogs, the Minutewomen bounced back with a 7-0 victory over the Saints.

After their match against Long Island, UMass will return home to take on the St. John’s at the Bay Road Tennis Club. The match will begin at 12:30 p.m.

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

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