Salve Regina playoff run ends at Nichols
POMFRET, Conn. - Rainy weather forced the Salve Regina v. Nichols women's tennis semifinal match indoors so the teams competed for a berth in the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) Championships final at the Pomfret School indoor tennis facility. The defending champion and top-seeded Bison bested the Seahawks, 5-1, to advance to their second straight finals appearance. On Saturday, Nichols will face second-seeded Endicott which defeated Roger Williams, 5-0, in the other semifinal.
The teams split the first two doubles matches. Freshman and CCC rookie of the year Lindsay Benoit (Holden, Mass.) paired with last year's top rookie and now two-time player of the year Ana Dyakiv (Amsterdam, N.Y.) to win seven straight games at first doubles and finish with an 8-2 score over Seahawk freshmen Elizabeth DiFilippo (West Chester, Pa.) and Meg Olson (Colchester, Vt.).
Salve Regina junior Shannon O'Brien (Gorham, Maine) and senior co-captain Nichol Stevens (Chester, Conn.) improved to 6-0 on the season at No. 2 doubles with an 8-4 score over Bison junior Jillian McQuiggan (Weymouth, Mass.) and senior Chelsey Miller (Salem, Conn.). The Seahawk duo earned honorable mention doubles accolades in voting by conference coaches last week.
At third doubles, Salve Regina sophomores Ana Gwozdz (Taunton, Mass.) and Elizabeth Liguori (Westerly, R.I.) built a 7-3 lead over Alexandra Cifone (Bristol, Conn.) and Kelsey Peterson (Fairbanks, Alaska). The Bison pair rallied for four straight wins to even the score at 7-all. Co-captain Gwozdz (pronounced guh-voosh) and Liguori broke serve to halt the Bison momentum but Cifone and Peterson broke right back to force a match-deciding tiebreak.
The Seahawk duo jumped to a 5-1 lead in the tiebreak before Cifone and Peterson mounted another comeback to put the Bison in front 2-1 after doubles.
"Ana and Liz played their best doubles of the season," said Seahawk head coach Ed Habershaw. "It was great to watch a playoff setting bring out their best. Congratulations to Alex and Kelsey for their comeback, they earned it."
In singles action, Dyakiv bested Stevens 6-1, 6-1 at the first flight while Benoit posted a 6-0, 6-2 victory over DiFilippo in the second flight. Miller then put the match away with her 6-0, 6-1 win against O'Brien at the fourth singles flight.
"We measure our season by how much we improve along the way," continued Habershaw. "Today's match showed dramatic improvement from our first meeting with the Bison (Sept. 13). I'm very happy for Nickie and Shannon finishing the fall unbeaten (6-0) in doubles together. How come we didn't pair them sooner?!"
The Seahawks will resume their 2011-12 season with indoor practice in February at the Newport Casino on the grounds of the Tennis Hall of Fame.
Tennis Match Results
Salve Regina vs Nichols
10/19/2011 at Pomfret, Conn.
Nichols 5, Salve Regina 1
1. Anna Dyakiv (NC) def. Nichol Stevens (SRU) 6-1, 6-1
2. Lindsay Benoit (NC) def. Elizabeth DiFilippo (SRU) 6-0, 6-2
3. Alexandra Cifone (NC) vs. Ana Gwozdz (SRU) 6-3, 4-2, unfinished
4. Chelsey Miller (NC) def. Shannon O'Brien (SRU) 6-0, 6-1
5. Karlee Walther (SRU) vs. Jillian McQuiggan (NC) no result
6. Elizabeth Liguori (SRU) vs. Kelsey Peterson (NC) no result
1. Lindsay Benoit/Anna Dyakiv (NC) def. Elizabeth DiFilippo/Meg Olson (SRU) 8-2
2. Shannon O'Brien/Nichol Stevens (SRU) def. Jillian McQuiggan/Chelsey Miller (NC) 8-4
3. Alexandra Cifone/Kelsey Peterson (NC) def. Elizabeth Liguori/Ana Gwozdz (SRU) 9-8 (8-6)
Salve Regina 8-5, 5-3
Nichols 12-3, 8-0
Order of finish: Doubles (1,2,3); Singles (1,2,4)
Commonwealth Coast Conference Semifinal Match #4 Salve Regina at #1 Nichols
Nichols hosts #2 Endicott in the CCC Championship at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday
Official: Toman Fayed T-2:34 A-44