WINCHESTER, Mass. – The third-seeded Simmons College women's tennis team was defeated by top-seeded Johnson & Wales University, 5-2, this afternoon in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference Championship at the Winchester Indoor Tennis Center in Winchester, Mass. The Sharks fall to 11-6 to conclude their fall season before they resume dual match play in the spring. It was the 14th straight Championship appearance for Simmons. The Wildcats improve to 15-1 and capture their second straight GNAC crown.
Simmons won two of the three doubles matches to take a 2-1 lead heading into singles action, but Johnson & Wales won the first four singles matches to earn the victory.
The Sharks' sophomore tandem of Nickie Nguyen (Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam/Saint Joseph Preparatory (Mass.)) and Marissa Johnson (Norwell, Mass.) earned an 8-4 victory at second doubles over the Wildcats' pairing of sophomores Madison Hernandez (Phoenix, Ariz.) and Holly Olson (Mukwonago, Wis.) to knot the match at 1-1, following a win at number one doubles by Johnson & Wales. Simmons took a 2-1 lead when first year Celia Speth (Deerfield, Mass.) and junior Paola Rios (Miami, Fla.) faced an 8-7 deficit, but won the next game over the Johnson & Wales first year pair of Thapenga Flores (Pasadena, Texas) and Claire Parry (Westport, Conn.) to force a tie-breaker. The Sharks duo took an early 3-2 lead and then won four of the next five points for a 7-3 win in the tie-breaker to earn a 9-8 decision. The Wildcats pair of junior Delaney Macchirole (Greenport, N.Y.) and sophomore Nina Cohen (Guatemala City, Guatemala) jumped out to an early lead at number one doubles and held off a late charge from the Simmons combo of sophomore Jessica Schroedl (Staatsburg, N.Y.) and Olivia Lakes (Dorchester, Mass.) to win the match, 8-3.
The Wildcats began their comeback with a straight-set 6-0, 6-0 victory at first singles from Cohen over Schroedl. Macchirole gave Johnson & Wales a 3-2 lead with a 6-0, 6-4 effort over Sharks' junior Michelle Medici (South Portland, Maine) at number four singles. The Wildcats had to work to get the final two points of the match with Hernandez battling to a 7-6 (4) win in the opening set at fifth singles over Speth, before winning the second set, 6-2, to give the top seed a 4-2 lead. Olson won the deciding match for the Wildcats with a three-set victory at sixth singles over Rios. Rios took the first set, 6-4, but Olson came back to win the next two frames, 6-0, 6-3 to give Johnson & Wales the Championship.
Nguyen and Johnson were both named to the GNAC All-Tournament team from Simmons. The pair won all three of their doubles matches in the tournament. Olson and Hernandez were also chosen to the All-Tournament team, along with Cohen, who was named the Most Valuable Player.
The Sharks return to action on March 30 when they host Wheaton College (Mass.) on Daly Courts in Brighton, Mass. at 3:00 p.m.