Women's Tennis Earns Second Straight NCAA Elite Eight Berth

Women's Tennis Earns Second Straight NCAA Elite Eight Berth

THE BASICS:

- Location: Brunswick, Maine (Pickard Tennis Courts)

- Score: No. 19 MIT 5, No. 7 Bowdoin 3

- Records: No. 19 MIT (18-3); No. 7 Bowdoin (15-6)

- The Lead: For the second straight season, the MIT women's tennis team is heading to the NCAA Division III Elite Eight after a thrilling 5-3 win over No. 7 Bowdoin College on Sunday afternoon. The Engineers held a 3-0 lead following doubles before holding off a furious Bowdoin rally for the victory.

HOW IT HAPPENED:

- In doubles, MIT quickly jumped on top in all three spots by 2-0 margins and quickly extended that advantage to 5-1 at No. 1 and 4-1 in the other two positions. The Engineers got on the board first at No. 1 as the team of sophomore Libby Rickeman (Wayzata, Minn.) and first-year Viktoriya Tabunshchyk (Ancaster, Canada) defeated Julia Marks and Devon Wolfe by an 8-2 final.

- The Engineers picked up 8-6 wins in the final two doubles matches to complete the sweep. No. 2 doubles was first as junior Lara Rakocevic (Portland, Ore.) and first-year Ashley Teng (Tustin, Calif.) defeated Sarah Shadowens and Fleming Landau to inch MIT closer. In No. 2 doubles, the MIT duo of sophomores Megan Guenther (Willowbrook, Ill.) and Marina Zhang (Garnet Valley, Pa.) had triple match point over Tasha Christ and Izzy Essi before the Polar Bears held and won the game to move to 7-6. The visitors closed out doubles in the next game though for the 8-6 victory.

- In singles, all six matches got off to close starts before Bowdoin's Sasa Jovanovic defeated Teng 6-1, 7-6 to get the hosts on the board at 3-1. Marks added the next point at No. 1 as she defeated Rickeman 6-3, 6-4, followed by Landau winning 6-1, 6-4 at No. 6 to tie the overall match at 3-3.

- At No. 4 singles, Rakocevic took the first set 6-2 overall Essi, but trailed 4-2 in the second set before rallying. With the Engineers needing just two singles matches to clinch the team win, Rakocevic closed out the second set, 6-4, and the attention of the match turned to Court No. 2.

- On Court 2, Tabunshchyk and Christ split the first two sets by 6-2 scores before MIT eventually closed out the Polar Bears after Bowdoin fought off three previous match points. On the final point, Christ's lob return of a Tabunshchyk backhand went just long to wrap up the team match at 5-3.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS:

- This is the third all-time Elite Eight appearance for the Engineers.

- Today's regional final marked the 400th career dual match for MIT head coach Carol Matsuzaki, who is in her 21st season with the Engineers and has a career mark of 279-121.

- Rickeman and Tabunshchyk are currently No. 10 in the ITA Northeast regional doubles rankings.

- MIT is currently ranked No. 5 in the NCAA Northeast Region rankings, while Bowdoin is ranked one spot ahead in the No. 4 spot.

UP NEXT:

- MIT advances to the NCAA National Quarterfinals, slated to begin on Monday, May 20th at Stowe Stadium in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The Engineers will face No. 4 ranked Wesleyan University in that match, with the match time and other details to be available soon.

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