WEST WINDSOR, N.J. – The 2013 Northeast Conference Women's Tennis Championship came down to the wire on Sunday afternoon, but it was the reigning NEC champion Fairleigh Dickinson Knights who prevailed in one of the closest matches in tournament history. The Bobcats fought back from an early deficit but came up one point shy in a 4-3 loss at the Mercer County Tennis Center in West Windsor, N.J.
"I couldn't be more proud of our effort today," said head coach Mike Quitko, who was in search of his 11th NEC title. "There were two very evenly matched teams out there and it could have gone either way. Our girls left everything on the court and that's all I could have asked for."
FDU snatched an early lead via the doubles point, as Quinnipiac surrendered the opening tally to a conference opponent for the first time all season. After falling at No. 1, Michelle Dassa (Marlboro, N.J.) and Jacqueline Raynor (Garden City, N.Y.) leveled the score with an 8-4 win over Egzona Morina and Celine Maier at No. 2. The point came down to No. 3 doubles where the FDU tandem of Dina Guzairova and Manuela Leme outlasted Mary Chupa (Bradenton, Fla.) and Ariana Launie (Milton, Mass.), 8-6, to solidify the point.
Quinnipiac showed its resilience soon after though, as the Bobcats took the first set in four of the six matches. Raynor garnered the first point for the Q with a 6-4, 6-1 win over Morina at No. 2 and Sarah Viebrock (Carmel, N.Y.) evened the score at two apiece with a 6-4, 6-3 win at No. 3. FDU took No. 1 and No. 5 singles to take a 3-0 lead, but Launie put forth her strongest effort of the season in a 7-5, 6-4 win at No. 6 – leaving a deadlock at three apiece and just one point remaining. Unfortunately, FDU's Celine Maier outlasted Dassa in a tremendous match at No. 4, allowing the Knights to escape with the victory.
#1 - RAPOPORT, Anna (FDU) def. CANTOR, Rachel (QU) 6-2, 6-0
#2 - RAYNOR, Jacqueline (QU) def. MORINA, Egzona (FDU) 6-4, 6-1
#3 - VIEBROCK, Sarah (QU) def. CHIS, Nicole (FDU) 6-4, 6-3
#4 - MAIER, Celine (FDU) def. DASSA, Michelle (QU) 5-7, 6-2, 6-3
#5 - GUZAIROVA, Dina (FDU) def. CHUPA, Mary (QU) 6-2, 6-4
#6 - LAUNIE, Ariana (QU) def. LEME, Manuela (FDU) 7-5, 6-4
#1 - RAPOPORT, Anna/CHIS, Nicole (FDU) def. CANTOR, Rachel/VIEBROCK, Sarah (QU) 8-5
#2 - RAYNOR, Jacqueline/DASSA, Michelle (QU) def. MORINA, Egzona/MAIER, Celine (FDU) 8-4
#3 - GUZAIROVA, Dina/LEME, Manuela (FDU) def. CHUPA, Mary/LAUNIE, Ariana (QU) 8-6
With their tournament results, the Bobcats have reached the finals in seven of the last eight seasons, a stretch that includes four championships. Quinnipiac's legendary head coach Mike Quitko, an eight-time NEC Coach of the Year, earned his 506th career victory on Saturday, April 20th in the NEC Semifinals. Now in his 22nd season, the tennis mastermind only trails Dave Fish of Harvard for most wins among active Division I coaches in the New England region.
FDU receives an automatic bid to the NCAA Championship. Women's first and second round play commences at campus sites on May 16.