Winning streaks happen with considerable frequency in athletics. However, the women’s tennis team is in the middle of a streak spanning over 20 years, and their most recent win awarded the team their 22nd consecutive New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) title this Saturday. The Lions have won 106 consecutive matches against NJAC opponents since the fall of 1982.
The Lions defeated the Ospreys of Richard Stockton College 9-0 in the conference championship to conclude the fall season and clinch the NJAC title. Freshman Christina Contrafatto defeated Stockton’s Kristen Tukel, 6-3, 6-1 in the first singles slot. Contrafatto shined all season at first singles. She attributes her success to her coach and teammates.
“(They) were all so welcoming and helpful,” Contrafatto said. “I have been very happy.”
Sophomore Kristen Turturiello defeated Stockton’s Victoria Rosenfeld, 6-1, 6-1 at second singles to improve her career singles mark to 24-10. Fellow sophomore Ayumi Yamazaki, who garnered the title of NJAC Player of the Week three times this fall, defeated senior Kate Ciocciola 6-0, 6-0 at fourth singles.
Freshman Ariel Donohue and junior captain Jackie Gavornik were victorious as well at fifth and sixth singles, respectively. Gavornik defeated Caitlin McMahon, 6-1, 6-3 and Donohue beat Alysa Gold, 7-6 (2), 6-2.
All three doubles tandems, consisting of duos Contrafatto and Gavornik, Turturiello and senior Katie D’Amato, and Yamazaki with sophomore Karen Shih enjoyed an extremely successful afternoon by beating each of their opponents with relative ease.
While other members of the team have next year to continue their careers as Lions, D’Amato must retire her racket after a 20-0 NJAC career record in singles play. Although she was unaware of any standing record or consecutive titles at the start of her career, she quickly learned to compete with the heart of a champion.
“I am so happy to have played here at the College,” D’Amato said, “It was a wonderful experience and I will really miss it.”
D’Amato played the role of a great team leader, according to Turturiello. “(Katie) always gets pumped tries to motivate everyone before each match,” she said. “She is just an all-around great kid, good athlete and has a good attitude all the time.”
Head coach Scott Dicheck shares in Tuturiello’s admiration for the team’s lone senior. “I’m hoping she has as good of a spring season as she has had this fall,” Dicheck said. “She will definitely be missed upon graduation.”
The Lions will now have the remainder of the semester to prepare for their spring season. No doubt they will have NJAC win 107 in the back of their minds as they practice hard for 2005.
Dicheck said he feels this was by far the best season in his five years of coaching at the College. “We did not drop a single set in conference play,” Dichek said. “This is the most we have ever dominated the NJAC.”