For the first time since 2011, the Stony Brook Women’s Tennis team did not hoist the title trophy at the America East Championships.
On Sunday, Albany unseated Stony Brook from its championship throne, as the Great Danes defeated the Seawolves, 4-2, to win the conference tournament and advance to the NCAA Championships beginning in Oklahoma in three weeks.
The match had a promising start for Stony Brook, which had won four consecutive conference championships entering the tournament. Sophomores Yana Nikolaeva and Elizabeth Tsvetkov won their doubles match, 6-2, then freshman Devanshi Bhimjiyani and senior Louise Badoche won 6-2 to clinch the doubles point, giving the Seawolves a 1-0 lead.
At singles, Albany won three quick matches, as sophomore Ana Glumac, freshman Jovana Kenic and sophomore Paulina Torres won the No. 5, No. 1 and No. 3 singles matches over Badoche, Nikolaeva and
Stony Brook junior Nadia Smergut won a three-set match, 6-3, 1-6, 6-2, at No. 4 singles over Albany senior Dajana Ognjenovic to cut the Great Danes’ lead to just 3-2.
Two matches remained, deep in the third set, at No. 2 and No. 6 singles, as Stony Brook needed to win both contests to prevail as champions.
Tsvetkov and senior Becky Shtilkind both won their second set to tie their respective matches at one set apiece, but Shtilkind caved first in the third set of the No. 6 match. The senior had multiple match point opportunities to tie the team score, 3-3, but she failed to capitalize.
It was in the final-set tiebreak that Albany freshman Isidora Pejovic clinched her match over Shtilkind to give her team the championship. Pejovic won the match, 6-2, 4-6, 7-6 (6), as the Great Danes won their first championship in school history.
Tsvetkov was denied a chance to finish her match as she trailed junior Alba Sala 6-4, 5-7, 6-5 in the third set.
The loss against Albany followed a Stony Brook semifinal victory over UMBC on Saturday, which the Seawolves swept, 4-0.
The doubles competition was very close between the Seawolves and the Retrievers. Bhimjiyani and Badoche closed out No. 2 doubles for Stony Brook, winning 6-3.
The No. 1 and No. 3 doubles matches each went to a tiebreak. After Nikolaeva and Tsvetkov fell, 7-6 (6) at the top-flight, Smergut and Shtilikind beat UMBC senior Madlena Kurasz and sophomore Charlotte Tonjann, 7-6 (8) after winning a lengthy 10-8 tiebreak. The victory gave the doubles point to the Seawolves, propelling them to a 1-0 lead.
At singles, Stony Brook made quick work of UMBC.
Nikolaeva won the No. 1 match, 6-3, 6-3, over freshman Maria Siopacha.
The Seawolves added victories at the No. 2 and No. 3 singles matches as well, as Tsvetkov and Bhimjiyani won, 6-4, 6-3 and 6-2, 6-3, respectively.
The prolific play from Stony Brook’s top players deemed the conclusion of the No. 4-6 matches unnecessary.
Stony Brook concludes its 2016 season 10-7 in dual matches. The Seawolves will return four of their six regular singles players next season.
The Stony Brook Men’s Tennis team will be in action next weekend, when the Seawolves partake in the Missouri Valley Championships in Wichita, Kansas.
Stony Brook concluded its regular season with a 7-6 dual match record.