April 19, 2012
2012 Patriot League Women's Tennis Championship Central
CENTER VALLEY, Pa. – The spring championship season kicks off this weekend with the 2012 Patriot League Women’s Tennis Tournament, which begins Friday at the Ulrich Varsity Courts on the Goodman Campus of Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa.
Quarterfinal matches are set to begin Friday at 10 a.m., with No. 4 Lehigh taking on fifth-seeded Bucknell. Third-seeded Colgate plays No. 6 Lafayette at 1 p.m., while No. 2 seed Army battles seventh-seeded Holy Cross at 3 p.m.
Saturday’s semifinals begin with No. 1 Navy opening play against the Lehigh-Bucknell winner at 10 a.m., while the Army-Holy Cross winner takes on the Colgate-Lafayette winner at 2 p.m.
Sunday’s championship match is slated to begin at 1 p.m.
Army was selected as the favorite by the head coaches in the preseason poll in January, and the Black Knights will look to fulfill those expectations with an eight straight League championship and NCAA Tournament berth.
The rest of the field has other plans.
In just its third season as a varsity program, Navy (19-2 overall spring, 4-0 Patriot League) secured the tournament’s No. 1 seed and the coveted bye to the semifinals on Saturday. The Mids have put together a pair of impressive win streaks on the season, but enter the tournament coming off a loss to Old Dominion. Perhaps more impressive for Navy is its roster boasts zero seniors, but the Mids have plenty of experience back in juniors Emani Decquir and Stefanie Ton, who were both All-League performers in 2011. Keith Puryear is in his fourth season heading up the program and is the reigning Patriot League Coach of the Year.
No. 2 seed Army (19-6, 5-0) won more League matches than top-seeded Navy, but the Black Knights settled for the second slot because the tiebreakers had to go to ITA rankings. That does not change the fact that Army is an imposing and formidable force in the Patriot League Tournament. The Black Knights have not lost a conference match in 11 years, winning 54 regular-season battles with League foes during that time. Army has won seven consecutive League championships, 11 of the last 13 and 12 overall. The Black Knights have the last two Rookies of the Year in Erin Colton (2010) and Jamila Paul (2011), and, like Navy, feature no seniors on the roster. Colton and Paul were both first-team All-Leaguers last season.
ITA rankings served as the tiebreaker to split apart Bucknell, Colgate and Lehigh, who all tied for third in the League standings. In the end it was the Raiders (6-12, 2-3) that earned the No. 3 seed in this weekend’s tournament. Going down the seedings from top to bottom, the Raiders feature the first senior in the tournament in Stephanie Brown. But a theme continues to emerge for head coach Bobby Pennington, who is in his sixth year as the head coach in Hamilton, N.Y. The Raiders boast a deep crop of underclassmen, with two juniors, three sophomores and three freshmen. Colgate will battle Lafayette in the quarterfinals Friday at Lehigh, and the Raiders won the head-to-head battle between the two during the regular season.
In essence, Lehigh (5-13, 2-3) wrapped up the fourth seed with its 7-0 victory over rival Lafayette Monday afternoon in Bethlehem. It might sound like a broken record, but the Mountain Hawks feature a lineup where many student-athletes will be making their tournament debuts. Eight of the none roster spots are occupied by freshmen and sophomores. That becomes more important given that Lehigh’s sole senior, Elizabeth Piscitelli, suffered an injury late in the regular season and is not scheduled to compete. The Mountain Hawks fell 5-2 at Bucknell April 13. Head coach Dave Shook is in his 23rd season overall at Lehigh and 16th guiding the women’s program.
Speaking of Bucknell (5-16, 2-3), the Bison enter the tournament with great momentum, having won two straight in convincing fashion. Bucknell wrapped up Patriot League play with a 7-0 victory Sunday at Lafayette, and honored their Class of 2012 with an impressive 6-1 victory against Robert Morris Wednesday afternoon on Senior Day. The Bison advanced to the tournament’s championship match for six straight seasons from 2005-10 before that stretch was broken a year ago. Bucknell is looking for a return trip as it aims for its third overall title and first since 1994.
Lafayette (3-10, 1-5) secured the No. 6 seed in the Patriot League Tournament and will open with quarterfinal opponent Colgate on Friday. The Leopards are seeking a better result against the Raiders than that which occurred on April 1, when Colgate posted a 7-0 victory. Lafayette’s League victory came in a 5-2 triumph over Holy Cross at West Point, N.Y., last Saturday.
The field is rounded out by No. 7 seed Holy Cross (4-3, 0-2), which posted a 7-2 victory over city rival Clark in Worcester, Mass., on Wednesday. Head coach Lisa Meola is in her third season as the head coach of the Crusaders. Holy Cross has the daunting task of challenging seven-time defending champion Army in the quarterfinals Friday afternoon.
For more information on the 2012 Patriot League Women’s Tennis Tournament, visit the tournament central page here.
2012 Patriot League Women’s Tennis Tournament Notebook
YOUR HOST FOR THE WEEKEND
One year after entertaining the field for the men’s bracket, Lehigh University is hosting the 2012 edition of the Patriot League Women’s Tennis Tournament, which takes place over three days at the Ulrich Varsity Courts. Friday’s quarterfinals and Saturday’s semifinals are set to begin at 10 a.m., while Sunday’s championship match is slated for 1 p.m. In the event that inclement weather forces competition indoors, play will shift to the Lewis Tennis Center, which is adjacent to the Ulrich Varsity Courts.
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
Friday’s quarterfinal contests are set to begin at 10 a.m., with the fourth-seeded and host Mountain Hawks taking on No. 5 seed Bucknell to open the day. No. 3 seed Colgate will battle sixth-seeded Lafayette in the second quarterfinal match at 1 p.m., while the day is scheduled to wrap up with second seed Army battling No. 7 Holy Cross at 3 p.m. Top-seeded Navy gets a bye to the semifinals on Saturday at 10 a.m. and will await the Lehigh-Bucknell winner. The winner between Colgate and Lafayette will battle the winner of the Army-Holy Cross match Saturday at 2 p.m. Sunday’s championship final will be contested between the semifinal winners at 1 p.m.
NAVY SECURES NO. 1 SEED
The Midshipmen have been on a steady rise in the three years since becoming a varsity program. Navy was awarded the tournament’s No. 1 seed this week after posting a 19-2 mark in the regular season and going 4-0 against Patriot League teams. Since joining the Patriot League for the 2009-10 campaign, the Mids have steadily improved their performance in the tournament. In their first outing in 2010, they advanced to the semifinals before bowing out to eventual runner-up Bucknell. A season ago, the Mids qualified for their first championship final and fell 4-0 to defending champion Army in the first meeting of the academy rivals. This season Navy is the top seed for the first time, and it aims for another chance to make the Sunday final.
ARMY SEEKS EIGHTH STRAIGHT TITLE
Army has dominated the Patriot League and the Tournament in recent memory, capturing seven straight championships and 11 of the last 13 trophies. Under the tutelage of 17th-year head coach Paul Peck, the Black Knights enter the 2012 bracket as the No. 2 seed and will start their quest for their eighth straight League crown when they meet No. 7 Holy Cross in the quarterfinals.
The week leading up to this year’s Patriot League Tournament was quite unique, as ITA rankings had to be consulted to determine the top five seeds. In the tiebreaking process, head-to-head matches are first consulted, but if no such contest exists, a comparison of records against common League opponents is made. In the event a tie still exists, a comparison is made of records against common non-League foes. If the tie still remains, then ITA rankings are consulted. ITA rankings were required to split up Army and Navy, while also unlocking the three-way tied for third place between Colgate, Lehigh and Bucknell, which were seeded Nos. 3, 4 and 5, respectively.
THE JOHN “PAT” ROONEY AWARD
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.
MERCHANDISE IS AVAILABLE
Patriot League championship gear and merchandise will be available at all championship events this spring, starting with women’s tennis in mid-April and ending at baseball in mid-May. Even if you can’t make it to all of the events, the Patriot League Store has you covered. From t-shirts to sweatshirts and any apparel in between, the Patriot League Store has everything. Among the merchandise currently available include apparel celebrating the Patriot League men’s and women’s basketball championships for Lehigh and Navy, respectively, back in March. Visit the store at www.PatriotLeagueStore.com.
2011 CHAMPIONSHIP RECAP
The first Army-Navy battle in women’s tennis wasn’t for the Star, but it was for the Patriot League title and a berth in the NCAA Tournament. Top-seeded Army and No. 2 Navy met in the finals of the 2011 tournament, and the Mids had the benefit of friendly surroundings with the playoff having been hosted at the Brigade Sports Complex in Annapolis. But in the end, the six-time defending champion Black Knights proved too strong as they picked up a 4-0 victory in the championship final. Army senior Annie Houghton was named Tournament MVP en route to capturing her third Player of the Year award in four seasons. She went 4-0 at the tournament and picked up wins at both singles and doubles in the championship win over the Mids.
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