WINCHESTER, Mass. - The second-seeded Simmons College women's tennis team's eight-year win streak at the Great Northeast Athletic Conference Championship came to an end following a 5-1 loss to top-seeded Johnson & Wales University this afternoon at the Winchester Indoor Lawn Tennis Center in Winchester, Mass. The Sharks fall to 7-6 on the season, while the Wildcats win their fourth straight match to improve to 13-2.
Johnson & Wales wins its fourth GNAC Championship and first since 2002 and will receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. It's also the first title for the Wildcats since the conference went to team dual match play to decide the league champion.
Simmons earned its only point of the match following an epic one-hour, 42-minute battle at number three doubles. Junior Mary Matthews (Wakefield, R.I.) and first year Mai Driesen (Fayetteville, N.Y.) combined for a 9-8 victory in pro-set form, winning the final point in a 7-3 tie-breaker over the JWU first year pair of Holly Olson (Mukwonago, Wisc.) and Madison Hernandez (Phoenix, Ariz.). The match concluded doubles play with Johnson & Wales holding a 2-1 edge.
The Wildcats took a 1-0 dual match lead following an 8-2 win at first doubles, courtesy of senior Morgan Thompson (Fargo, N.D.) and first year Luiza Silva Simoes (Cuiaba, Brazil) over the Sharks' pair of first year Jessica Schroedl (Staatsburg, N.Y.) and junior Olivia Lakes (Dorchester, Mass.). Johnson & Wales increased its lead to 2-0 behind an 8-3 victory at second doubles from first year Nina Cohen (Guatemala City, Guatemala) and sophomore Delaney Macchirole (Greenport, N.Y.) over the Simmons first year duo of Marissa Johnson (Norwell, Mass.) and Nickie Nguyen (Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam/Saint Joseph Preparatory (Mass.)).
The Wildcats took a 4-1 lead after a 6-1, 6-0 triumph at number three singles by Silva Simoes over Johnson. Johnson & Wales clinched the victory and the championship with a 6-0, 6-2 victory at second singles by Cohen over Nguyen.
Schroedl and Lakes were both named to the GNAC All-Tournament Team for the Sharks. Simoes, Thompson and Cohen were selected for the Wildcats with Cohen also earning Most Valuable Player honors. Suffolk University graduate student Eugenia Skorobogatova and University of Saint Joseph (Conn.) sophomore Sakinah Abdulsalam (Bristol, Conn.) were also tabbed to the All-Tourney squad.
Simmons will be off for the remainder of the fall and will compete on the court again when it heads to Northampton, Mass. to play Smith College at 12:00 p.m. on Sunday, March 26, while Johnson & Wales awaits the first round of the NCAA Tournament in May.