Pair of MIT Squads Reach Finals of NEWITT Tournament

Head Coach Carol Matsuzaki and senior Victoria Tam
Head Coach Carol Matsuzaki and senior Victoria Tam

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. – In a tune-up for next weekend's New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Tournament, the MIT women's tennis team took part in the annual New England Women's Intercollegiate Tournament (NEWITT) this weekend. Ten Engineers were paired together in the competition that consisted entirely of doubles play this year.

Three Engineers reached the finals of the various brackets in the tournament. Senior Alana Peters (Kenilworth, Ill.) was teamed with senior Rachael Downey (Groveland, Mass.) from Simmons College and the pair posted a successful weekend of play, going 4-1 to reach the finals of the West Draw. Sophomore Sonya Das (Arden Hills, Minn.) and freshman Kelly Zhu (Houston, Texas) also had a strong showing for MIT, reaching the finals of the Northeast backdraw.

Another highlight of the weekend was senior Victoria Tam (Rolling Hills Estates, Calif.) receiving the Morehouse Award. Established in 2001 to commemorate the life of Lindsay Morehouse and the contributions she made to the New England women's tennis community and selected by the coaches of the participating institutions in NEWITT, the honor goes to the player who best displays the ideals of sportsmanship, friendliness, character, fair play, and hard work that Lindsay embodied until her untimely death on September 11, 2001. Tam is the second MIT player to be honored with the award, joining Mariah Hoover '08 who was selected in 2007. 

Peters and Downey dropped their first round match, 8-3, to a team from Trinity College before breaking off four straight wins to reach the finals. Three of the victories were by 8-5 scores, including an 8-5 win over a duo from Mount Holyoke College to put them up against Irmer/Aisiks from Amherst College. The mixed team did not let up, coming away with the championship of the West draw with an 8-6 victory. 

Das and Zhu started the weekend with 8-0 and 8-3 wins over teams from Smith College and Gordon College. They then faced off against the No. 3 seeded team of Ganacayco/Hart from Williams College, giving them all they could handle before falling, 8-6. Moving on to a back draw, the MIT team then picked up an 8-3 win over a team from Brandeis University before dispatching teammates, junior Krystal Lai (Irvine, Calif.) and sophomore Dora Tzeng (Freemont, Calif.), 8-6, to reach the final of that bracket. There they faced off against the team of Leavitt/Cohen from Brandeis, falling in a close, 9-8 (4) battle for the Northeast bracket championship.

Lai and Tzeng started with wins over teams from NEWMAC foes Mount Holyoke and Springfield College before falling to No. 7 seeded Bush/Cancio from Williams, 8-4. They then took an 8-2 decision over a team from Brandeis before falling to their teammates to end their weekend with a 3-2 record. 

Tam was scheduled to play with junior Elysa Kohrs (Half Moon Bay, Calif.), but an injury forced her to bow out and sophomore Rena Liu (Oak Hill, Va.) took her place. The pair cruised through the first three rounds, including a hard fought 9-8 (3) win over a team from Babson College to reach the quarterfinals. There they fell in another close one, 8-6, to a team from Amherst before dropping another match to an Amherst team in the back draw to close out their weekend. Liu did double duty for the Engineers, also playing with senior Iris Zhuang (Allen, Texas). That pair went 3-3, with two of the losses coming by default due to Liu playing with Kohrs as well.

Also playing at the tournament for MIT was junior Wendi Kong (Cupertino, Calif.) and sophomore Cindy Liu (Claremont, Calif.). After splitting a pair of 8-2 matches to start play, the team moved on to the back draw where they picked up 8-3 and 8-1 victories over teams from Williams and Colby College before ending their weekend with a close, 8-5, loss to Ferjanic/Babunski of Trinity in a semifinal for the bracket.

Next up for MIT will be the NEWMAC Championships. As the No. 1 seed, the Engineers will host the semifinals and finals on Saturday and Sunday, October 24-25. In it's semifinal on Saturday, MIT will host the winner of the quarterfinal match between #4 Mount Holyoke and #5 Wheaton at 11:30 a.m.