Patriot League Women's Tennis Championship Preview

PATRIOTLEAGUEDOTORG BU co-captain Leonie-Charlotte Athanasiadis
BU co-captain Leonie-Charlotte Athanasiadis

April 16, 2014

Patriot League Women's Tennis Tournament Central

CENTER VALLEY, Pa. - Army will begin the 2014 Patriot League Women's Tennis Championship on a quest for its 10th straight tournament title when play gets under way on Thursday at Bucknell University's Varsity Courts. It is League newcomer Boston University, however, that earned the top seed on the strength of a 7-0 win over the Black Knights on April 13.

Lafayette (5-7) and Holy Cross (6-8) will get things started at 3 p.m. on Thursday in Lewisburg, Pa. when the eighth-seeded Leopards take on the No. 9 Crusaders in a first round match.

The winner will advance to face the top-seeded Terriers (11-6) at 9 a.m. on Friday in the first of four quarterfinal matches. Host Bucknell, the No. 4 seed, will play No. 5 Lehigh at 11 a.m. No. 2 Army follows against No. 7 Colgate at 2 p.m. with No. 3 Navy and No. 6 Loyola Maryland rounding out the action at 4 p.m.

Saturday's semifinal matches are set for 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. The Boston University/Lafayette/Holy Cross winner will play the Bucknell/Lehigh winner in the morning match. The second semifinal tilt will take place between the Army/Colgate winner and the Navy/Loyola winner.

The last two remaining teams will square off at noon Sunday for the Patriot League championship.

Last year's championship victory for Army was the program's 14th overall and 13th in the last 15 seasons. Only wins by American in 2002 and again in '04 interrupted the run.

Boston University's win over the Black Knights on Sunday was its sixth straight victory and handed Army (21-3) its first Patriot League regular season loss in 65 matches (Feb. 17, 2002, American). The Terriers have not lost since dropping a 4-3 match to Troy on March 13 during a spring break trip.

Navy (20-7) has reached the championship finals each of the past three seasons and could be on a collision course with rival Army again, only this time in the semifinals, if the Mids can get past Loyola (7-6-1) and the Black Knights survive Colgate (6-12). Navy defeated the Greyhounds 7-0 on Sunday and Army defeated the Raiders 7-0 on March 23.

Bucknell (6-7) and Lehigh (5-7), who will square off in the other quarterfinal pairing, did not meet during the spring season.

The 2014 Patriot League Women's Tennis Championships features 10 players who were named to either the All-Patriot League first or second team in 2013.

Four teams each return two players who received All-League honors a year ago: Army's Jamile Paul (1st) and Carolyn Pittman (2nd), Bucknell's Elana Vidiascu (2nd) and Maria Cioffi (2nd), Lehigh's Jenai Bilmoria (1st) and Abby Farrell (2nd) and Navy's Erin Snook (1st) and Darien Sears (2nd). Colgate's Kelsey Shea (2nd) and Lafayette's Caroline Nixon (2nd) also return.

This list does not include players from Boston University or Loyola University Maryland who are participating in the spring championships for the first time. The Terriers' Johanna Hyoty was named the Patriot League Player of the Month for March after compiling a 14-1 record in singles and doubles. The Black Knights' Pittman was the Patriot League Player of the Month in February.

Patriot League Women's Tennis Tournament Notebook

The field returns to Bucknell University for the Patriot League Women's Tennis Tournament for the first time since 2009, when Army defeated the host Bison 4-1 on April 26, 2009. Outdoor play will take place at the Varsity Tennis Courts in Lewisburg, Pa. In the event of inclement weather, competition will move to the West Branch Tennis Club in Williamsport, Pa.

With the addition of two teams to the full-field event, the Patriot League Women's Tennis Championship will expand to four days for the first time. No.8 Lafayette and No. 9 Holy Cross will play at 3 p.m. on Thursday with the winner advancing to face top-seeded Boston University in the 9 a.m. quarterfinal on Friday. No. 4 Bucknell and No. 5 Lehigh will follow at 11 a.m. In a pair of Friday afternoon quarterfinal matches, No. 2 Army plays No. 7 Colgate at 2 p.m. with No. 3 Navy and No. 6 Loyola closing out the quarterfinal round at 4 p.m. Saturday's semifinals are set for 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., with the Boston University/Lafayette/Holy Cross winner facing either Bucknell or Lehigh in the opener, and the Navy/Loyola winner going against the Army/Colgate winner in the second contest. Sunday's championship battle between the semifinal winners is slated to begin at noon.

Army has won nine consecutive Patriot League postseason titles, but was beaten out for the top seed for the 2014 postseason by Boston University. The Terriers defeated the Black Knights 7-0 on Sunday to secure the top spot and relegate Army to the No. 2 seed. Navy, who lost to Army 4-3 on April 5, is the No. 3 seed followed by host Bucknell at No. 4, Lehigh at No. 5, Loyola at No. 6, Colgate at No. 7, Lafayette at No. 8 and Holy Cross at No. 9.

As dominant as Army has been in winning nine straight Patriot League Women's Tennis titles, Boston University had a similar stranglehold as a member of the America East Conference. Prior to being ruled ineligible for the America East postseason title after announcing their intention to join the Patriot League, the Terriers won 17 consecutive America East titles between 1997-2011. In 28 seasons under head coach Lesley Sheehan, Boston University won 22 America East titles and qualified for the NCAA Tournament 13 times.

In addition to Boston University looking to end Army's grip on the women's tennis championship, the rest of the field is looking to end the streak. Navy has battled the Black Knights in each of the last three Patriot League finals, and the Mids are hoping for a fourth crack at their rivals. But Navy isn't the only team with designs on the title. Bucknell, which has two titles to its credit but none since 1994, advanced to the championship match for six straight years from 2005-10. Colgate has three titles but none since winning them consecutively from 1995-97, while Lafayette has one (1991) and Holy Cross none.

The student-athlete selected as the Tournament's Most Valuable Player will be presented with the John "Pat" Rooney Award. Rooney served as the women's tennis coach at Fordham from 1973 until his death in February 1991, and guided the Rams to the first Patriot League Women's Tennis title in the fall of 1990. Army's Della Taylor was the 2013 recipient of the John "Pat" Rooney Award.

The rivals were at it again as Army and Navy met for the Patriot League title for the third straight year. In the 2013 championship matchup at the Malek Courts in West Point, N.Y. the Black Knights captured the doubles point and won contests in the fourth, fifth and sixth singles to post a 4-1 win over the Mids. Della Taylor picked up the clinching point for Army. After taking a one-set lead with a 6-2 victory over Katie Porter, the latter rallied to tie the match with a 6-4 win in set No. 2. Taylor rebounded with a 6-1 win in the third set to give Army the championship.

2014 Patriot League Women's Tennis Tournament

Thursday, April 17 - First Round
No. 8 Lafayette vs. No. 9 Holy Cross - 3 p.m.

Friday, April 18 - Quarterfinals
No. 1 Boston University vs. No. 8/9 Lafayette/Holy Cross winner - 9 a.m.
No. 4 Bucknell vs. No. 5 Lehigh - 11 a.m.
No. 2 Army vs. No. 7 Colgate - 2 p.m.
No. 3 Navy vs. No. 6 Loyola - 4 p.m.

Saturday, April 27 - Semifinals
Boston University/Lafayette/Holy Cross vs. Bucknell/Lehigh - 11 a.m.
Army/Colgate vs. Navy/Loyola - 2 p.m.

Sunday, April 28 - Championship
Semifinal winners - Noon