Trailing in the match, 4-2, No. 1 seed MIT came from behind to win the final three singles contests to come away with a thrilling, 5-4, win over No. 2 seed Babson College in the final of the 2015 New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) women’s tennis tournament. Elysa M. Kohrs ’17 was named the tournament’s most outstanding player after capturing a key point in the No. 1 singles match for MIT.
MIT (10-0) took one-game leads in all three doubles matches, but Babson (11-2) came back in the Nos. 1 and 3 contests to take an early 2-1 lead in the match. The first point of the day came from the Beaver’s No. 3 team of freshmen, Eleni Gianelos and Chloe Brandt, who came back to take an 8-5 win over MIT’s team of Dora R. Tzeng ’18 and Krystal Y. Lai ’17. At No. 1, the Babson duo of sophomores Yagmur Akgul and Jenny Quenard also staged a comeback, taking an 8-4 decision over Kohrs ’17 and Victoria Tam ’16.
MIT did salvage one point in doubles play when its No. 2 team of sophomore Sonya A. Das ’18 and freshman Kelly J. Zhu ’19 built a large early lead that they turned into an 8-4 win over junior Dina Weick and senior Tori Paolino.
In singles play Das tied up things for MIT with a 6-0, 6-2 win over Paolino at No. 4. Babson bounced right back, pulling back in front with wins in the next two matches. Gianelos won in straight sets at No. 2, defeating Zhu, 6-1, 6-2. Then at No. 3 Quenard bounced back from a first set loss to drop Tzeng, 1-6, 6-4, 6-3, to bring the Beavers just one win away from clinching their second straight NEWMAC title.
Needing to sweep the remaining three matches to take home the championship, MIT started down the comeback trail in the No. 5 match where Cindy R. Liu ’18 defeated Weick in straight sets, 6-1, 6-4. It then came down to the No. 1 and No. 6 matches.
The key battled turned out to be in the No. 1 match between Kohrs and Akgul. Kohrs held an early advantage in the first set, but Akgul upped her game and came back for a 6-4 victory. Akgul kept up her strong play in the second set and opened up a lead, but Kohrs stormed back and knotted the match with a 7-5 win. With Kong leading comfortably in the No. 6 match, it came down to the third set between Kohrs and Akgul. The pair battled game-for-game in the early going, but Kohrs pulled ahead 5-3 and then broke Akgul to win the match. Kong then put the championship in MIT’s hands by finishing off her matchup with Brandt, 6-4, 6-1.
With the victory MIT will get the NEWMAC’s automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Women’s Tennis Championship that will be held next May. The win gives MIT its eighth NEWMAC women’s tennis title in the program’s history. The Engineers will be appearing in the NCAA Tournament for a sixth time overall.