AMHERST, Mass. – The TCNJ women’s tennis team gave powerhouse Tufts a battle before ultimately succumbing to a 5-1 decision in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday morning at Amherst.
The No. 38 Lions saw another terrific season come to an end with a record of 17-3, while the 6th-ranked Jumbos advanced to take on NESCAC rival and host Amherst in the Sweet Sixteen on Sunday.
Tufts (17-3) quickly jumped out to a lead with an 8-1 victory at No. 2 doubles. Elle Christensen and Tilly Rigby – the second-ranked tandem in the Northeast Region – doubled the advantage with an 8-3 victory over TCNJ’s top pairing of Charlotte Roarty and Jenny Landells.
Aira Abalos and Anusha Rangu gave the Lions a huge victory, picking up an early break and leading 2-0 before going back and forth in a see-saw match with Nicki Frankel and Rebecca Lim. They were trailing 7-5 and on the brink of defeat before breaking their Jumbo counterparts to force a tiebreaker, which they won by a 7-4 count to stave off a Tufts sweep.
Abalos and Rangu teamed to finish 17-1 in dual matches in their first season as partners.
Roarty and Landells finished their remarkable campaign with a record of 16-2 in dual matches, and the veteran duo finished 13th in the nation at the ITA Cup in the fall. They were first-team All-NJAC selections together for the second consecutive season.
Tufts made quick work of singles play, winning handily at No. 4 (6-0, 6-0), No. 5 (6-1, 6-1), and No. 6 (6-1, 6-1) to seal their progression to the regional final.
Abalos trailed 6-1, 2-1 to Zoe Kava at No. 2 singles, while Roarty was up 2-1 in the second set after dropping the first, 6-3, to Christensen on the number one court.
Vasile was halfway to a victory at No. 3, emerging from a 7-2 tiebreaker in her first set with Frankel at No. 3.