Women’s Tennis Edges Wesleyan in NCAA Quarterfinal

Maddi Stow clinched Monday's match with an ace at No. 6 singles.
Maddi Stow clinched Monday's match with an ace at No. 6 singles.

Middlebury advanced to the NCAA Women's Tennis Semifinals for the third-straight year and fourth time in program history (2005, 2016, 2017, 2018) with a 5-2 win over fifth-ranked Wesleyan. The quarterfinal match was contested at the Pomona-Pitzer's Pauley Tennis Complex in Claremont, California. The fourth-ranked Panthers, who tied a single-season program record with 17 victories (17-3), will play No. 1 Emory, who defeated No. 10 Chicago 5-1, on Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. in the NCAA Semifinals. The Cardinals finish the season at 14-4.

Middlebury jumped out to a 2-1 advantage after doubles play on Monday. The top pair of Katherine Hughes and Skylar Schossberger fell by an 8-6 score to Wesleyan's Eudice Chong and Victoria Yu. The No. 2 team of Catherine Blazye and Maddi Stow evened the match at 1-1, winning the last two games for a narrow 8-6 win against Polina Kiseleva and Alissa Nakamoto. The Panthers took the lead headed to singles when Heather Boehm and Ann Martin Skelly claimed three of the final four games during an 8-5 victory over Helen Klass-Warch and Nicole McCann.

In singles action, Chong tied the match for the Cardinals with a 6-0, 6-2 victory over Middlebury's Christina Puccinelli in the top spot. Minutes later, Blazye gave the Panthers the lead for good with a 6-2, 6-1 win against Kiseleva at No. 4. Boehm put Middlebury ahead 4-2, holding her serve in the final game of the second set for a 6-2, 7-5 victory against Aashli Budhiraja in the third flight. With the final three matches tightly contested, Stow clinched the match for Middlebury at No. 6, hitting an ace for the winning point during a 6-3, 7-5 triumph over Klass-Warch.

In the other two matches that went unfinished, Hughes lost the opening set to Yu at No. 2 (6-2), before the pair were locked in a back-and-forth tiebreaker in the second set with Yu ahead 14-13 when the match was decided. At No. 5, Schossberger grabbed the first set (6-2) for the Panthers, but lost the second set 6-1 to Nakamoto. The third and decisive set saw Nakamoto clinging to a narrow 5-4 advantage.

Monday's quarterfinal match between Middlebury and Wesleyan marked the third meeting between the programs this spring and the 27th overall. The teams met on April 22 during NESCAC play in Connecticut, with Middlebury posting a 6-3 decision. A few weeks later during the NESCAC Tournament Semifinal, the Panthers recorded a 5-3 victory. The two programs had never met before Monday in the NCAA Tournament, as this was Wesleyan's first trip to the quarterfinal round.

Tuesday's NCAA Semifinal contest between the Panthers and Eagles is the 12th all-time meeting between the two schools and the fourth in the NCAA Tournament. Emory has won all three previous matches, including a 5-2 win in the NCAA Quarterfinals in 2013, a 5-1 decision in the same round a year later and a 5-1 victory last spring in the NCAA Semifinals.