Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass seeded No. 6 for A-10

By Steven Levine, Collegian Staff

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P.J. Stanley/Collegian

Aside from being the home of the World Series Champions, Super Bowl Champions, and possibly this year’s Stanley Cup Champions, Pennsylvania will also be the home of the 26th annual Atlantic-10 tennis championships.

After a terrible finish to an adequate season, the UMass tennis team has earned the No. 6 seed in the upcoming Atlantic-10 Championships. The Minutewomen (9-13) will play the No. 11 seed Dayton at 1 p.m. on Friday. The only other meeting between these two took place in 1998, when UMass won.

If UMass beats Dayton, they will presumably go on to face No. 3 Xavier, last year’s runner-up, at 6 p.m. that same day. UMass has played the Musketeers in the last three championships, winning two of three, including a win in the A-10 quarterfinals in 2007. Historically, UMass owns a 5-3 record against Xavier.

For UMass, a disappointing finish to the regular season had a lot to do with lineup inconsistencies. With top player Magdalena Ploch back in the lineup, UMass hopes to regain its early season form in an attempt at a title-run.

Richmond (14-5) comes into the tournament ranked No. 1, prompting many to pick the Spiders as the 2009 A-10 Champions.

Richmond is led by senior captain Pamela Duran, who owns an 11-5 singles record this year. Duran is a three-time All-Conference selection and was named the Most Outstanding Performer for the 2007 championship, Richmond‘s last A-10 title.

Last year’s championship title belongs to Temple, who broke Richmond‘s four-year streak. Although considered the underdogs to the Spiders, the Owls (15-5) have a talented roster. Led by four players who earned 2008 All-Atlantic 10 honors, Temple is expected to make a deep run in this year’s championships.

Rhode Island‘s successful season and No. 4 ranking can be attributed to youth, as three freshmen led the Rams to a stellar 14-2 season. Freshman Kirsten Leikem, the Rams’ No. 1 player, hopes to continue her dominance in both singles and doubles, with her twin Tristany joining her in doubles matches. Along with the Leikem twins, fellow freshman Pam Emery has done her fair share of work, as the three have combined to win 50 singles matches this season.

The 26th annual A-10 Championships, dominated by two teams for the past seven years, could have a surprise in store. From teams plagued by injuries to teams reliant on freshman, anything could happen; championship status will have to be earned, not expected.

Steve Levine can be reached at [email protected]

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