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Women’s Tennis Wins NEWMAC Championship

MIT Sweeps Babson, Defeats Mount Holyoke and Wellesley to Clinch Title

By Nisha Singh
TEAM CO-CAPTAIN

This past weekend the tennis team became New England Women and Men’s Athletic Conference Championshions by winning the conference tournament held at Babson and Wellesley Colleges.

Due to their undefeated regular season conference record, the team went in seeded first. On Saturday, the MIT team shut out eight-seed Babson on their home courts. In doubles against Babson, MIT lost a total of 2 games. The first and second doubles teams of co-captain Mealani K. Nakamura ’00-Kelly J. Koskelin ’02 and Julie J. Koo ’03-Jessica Hall ’02 both won 8-1. The third doubles team of Nisha Singh ’00-Yi-Ning Cheng ’02 didn’t lose a game, winning 8-0.

MIT had little trouble in singles. Nakamura survived a tough first set, but cruised through the second, winning 6-4, 6-0 at first singles. Koo and Singh blanked their opponents 6-0, 6-0 at second and fourth singles, while Doana Cecan ’00 won 6-2, 6-1 at third singles. Cheng and Jean Yang ’00 had more competitive matches at fifth and sixth singles, winning 6-3, 6-4 and 6-4, 6-3. Yang also played a pro-set at seventh singles, winning 8-0.

MHC falls easily in quick match

The team faced fourth-seed Mount Holyoke College at Wellesley in the semifinals on Sunday. Due to lack of court space, the match was stopped as soon as a winner was decided, with MIT earning a 5-1 victory.

In doubles against Mt. Holyoke, Nakamura-Koskelin won 8-5 at first doubles, while Koo-Hall won 8-4 at second doubles. Mt. Holyoke earned their only point at third doubles, where Singh-Cheng lost 8-1.

Going into singles with the 2-1 lead, the top three singles matches were played first due to the court situation. That’s all MIT needed, as they swept these three positions. At first singles, Nakamura won 6-2, 6-1, while Koo won 6-0, 6-1 at third singles. Koskelin clinched the match at second singles, winning 6-3, 7-5, and sending MIT into the finals.

At this point, the team did not know whether they were going to face Wellesley or Wheaton in the finals as the two teams were playing a very close semifinal. Second-seed Wellesley pulled out a 5-3 victory, setting up a rematch from two weeks ago that MIT won 5-4 on their home courts.

However, the MIT women rose to the occasion, pulverizing Wellesley 8-1 to earn their first conference title since 1992.

Doubles was a sweep for MIT. At the first position, Nakamura-Koskelin won 8-3, while second and third doubles were both 8-5 victories for the teams of Koo-Hall and Singh-Cheng, who rebounded well from their loss earlier in the day. Play was suspended in the middle of these matches due to darkness, and though there could have been a change of momentum due to the 15 minute delay, it seemed that nothing could stop MIT.

Singles finish off Wellesley

In singles against Wellesley, Nakamura, Koskelin, and Koo all cruised at the top three positions, winning 6-1, 6-2; 6-2, 6-2; and 6-1, 6-1. Hall had a close one at fourth singles. After winning the first set in a tie breaker 7-6(4) (though she was down 4-0), she dropped the second 6-2. Having clinched the match for MIT when the two teams faced off two weeks ago, Hall knew she had her hands full.

Play started at 3-3 in the third set due to the lateness of the hour (it was about 8:30 p.m. by this time). Hall seized the opportunity and the match 6-3. Cecan lost 6-3, 6-1 at fifth singles, but Singh avenged her earlier defeat in the season at the hands of her Wellesley opponent, winning 6-4, 6-3.

After the match, MIT was awarded the trophy as the 1999 Champions of the NEWMAC Conference. Following lots of smiles, hugs, and pictures, head coach Carol Matsuzaki had the following thoughts on the long, but joyful day: “We really handled the pressure of being the top seed well. It was huge for us to sweep the doubles against Wellesley, especially since we had lost two out of the three doubles matches the last time we played them. MIT came out to play, and executed wonderfully... we will need to do more of the same at the New Englands this weekend.”

The New England Women’s Intercollegiate Tennis Tournament at Amherst College is next up for the team, as they hope to continue their magical season with a solid showing against very tough competition.