By Rohan Ahluwalia
After the women’s tennis team’s 8-1 victory against William Paterson University, they managed to clinch their 34th consecutive New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) title and continue their 171-match winning streak against NJAC competition along the way.
The NJAC title now means the Lions have automatically qualified for the NCAA Division III tournament next year.
“We’re very excited to win the NJAC and earn a berth for the NCAA tournament next May, and in the process, continue our winning streak,” head coach Scott Dicheck said.
Coming into this week, the Lions had three matches against NJAC opposition. The first two matches were comprehensive 9-0 victories for the Lions, while the final match against William Paterson was very close to being perfect.
The first match took place on Tuesday, Sept. 13, against Rutgers University-Camden. The match proved to be nothing that the College could not handle, as they dominated their opponents in both singles and doubles competitions.
Sophomores Katelyn Hojeibane and Emily Szkudlarski won their matches in straight sets, while juniors Brittany Reedman and Maddy Stoner and seniors Katie Buchbinder and Anna Prestera did the same.
In doubles, all three pairs of Lions won their matches, 8-0. Stoner partnered with Reedman, while Prestera partnered with Buchbinder. Hojeibane partnered with sophomore Mackenzie Holleran to finish the rout for the College.
The Lions second match saw the team return home to face off against Kean University on Friday, Sept. 16. The result and performances mirrored the matchup against Kean earlier in the week. Sophomores Sneha Rangu and Alyssa Baldi returned to the courts and won their matches in straight sets. Meanwhile, Reedman, Stoner, Szkudlarski and Prestera continued to perform well against Rutgers-Camden.
The story remained the same in doubles play. Rangu and Baldi returned as a pair to win their match, 8-0, while Stoner and Prestera, as well as Hojeibane and Holleran, won in the same manner, 8-0.
With the team in such fantastic form, confidence was high going into the last NJAC matchup of the year against William Paterson University. However, unlike the previous two matches, the College’s victory was not a straight 9-0 victory, but 8-1. The small blemish for the Lions was when Rangu was defeated in her singles matchup after a tough encounter. Reedman, Stoner, Baldi, Prestera and Buchbinder managed to continue the domination from the College.
In doubles play, Rangu managed to put the singles matchup behind her as she and her partner, Baldi, managed to win their match 8-0. Meanwhile, Stoner partnered with sophomore Grace Minassian and won their match 8-3, while junior Danna Tsay and Prestera finished the day with a 8-0 victory.
Following the matches, Dicheck was very satisfied and credited his entire team and their spirit throughout the season.
“We have a very talented group of players. Total team effort lead by our captain Anna. I was quite happy with our wins and our margin,” the coach said. “We have a roster of 15 and from day one of pre-season they have been good. Day in and day out in practice, they get good practice against their teammates, and that makes them better.”
The team has regionals coming up next week before they resume their season in March 2017. In a reflection of the fall season, Dicheck said all goals were fulfilled.
“Our goal coming in was to win the NJAC and to earn a NCAA berth,” Dicheck said. “Our second goal was to do well in tournaments, so we can do well in regionals next weekend. Looking forward to going up there.”