MIDDLETOWN, Conn. – The storybook season continues for the Wesleyan women’s tennis team as the Cardinals came back from 3-1 down to defeat Middlebury, 5-4, securing the program’s third straight NESCAC Championship from the John Wood Memorial Tennis Courts on Sunday afternoon. Wesleyan (20-0) tied a single-season program record for wins and earned the NESCAC’s automatic bid into the 2022 NCAA Tournament. The Cardinals await news of their first round opponent, slated to release tomorrow at Noon.
In a rematch of the 2019 NESCAC title match, these two Top 5 ranked teams played to another epic match that came down to the final singles match. Middlebury took control in the early going, handing Wesleyan defeats on two doubles courts as the Panthers held a 2-1 lead heading into singles play. This marked just the second time all season that Wesleyan lost two doubles matches.
Amy Delman and Gena Huang took down Caitlyn Ferrante ’23 and Sasha Gaeth ’23 with an 8-3 score at # 1, as the tandem of Ferrante and Gaeth lost for the first time all season as a doubles pairing (15-0 previously). Suddenly it was 2-0 Middlebury as Sahana Raman and Claudia Miller defeated Kristina Yu ’22 and Reindeer Mohsen-Breen ’25, 8-6, at # 3 as another Cardinal doubles team lost for the first time this season (7-0 previously).
Thrown some adversity early on in the match, Sophie Henderson ’22 and Nika Vesely ’25 scored a huge win at # 2 doubles, salvaging a point and locking in some momentum heading into singles as they defeated Brinlea La Barge and Sami Remis, 8-4.
Middlebury continued to apply pressure, as Raman took down Katie Fleischman ’23 with a dominant 6-2, 6-1 showing at # 2 as the Panthers moved ahead 3-1 in team scoring. It was here, however, that Wesleyan bounced back and made a move as the wins came fast and furious with Ferrante starting the run at # 1, taking down La Barge by a convincing 6-2, 6-2 decision.
Serim Jin ’23 was next to finish as she bounced back from her loss in the semifinal round to defeat Delman in straight sets 6-3, 6-4, knotting the team scoring at 3 apiece. The Cardinals then took their first lead of the match as Mohsen-Breen remains unbeaten in singles dual play, moving to 12-0 as she toppled Kavina Amin 6-4, 6-2, moving Wesleyan just one point away from clinching the match.
With two singles matches left, Middlebury’s Huang silenced the Wesleyan run with a 6-2, 6-4 triumph at # 5 as all focus shifted to # 3 in a match that would decide the outcome.
In that decisive match, the only one that stretched into a third set, it was Venia Yeung ’22 up against Miller. Middlebury grabbed a tight opening set 6-4 but Yeung took set number two in a 6-0 sweep. Miller then broke Yeung’s serve early in the third set, taking a 3-1 lead, before Yeung rattled off four consecutive games for a 5-3 edge. Miller held serve and pulled to within one (5-4) but Yeung served out the match, securing the clinching point with a 4-6, 6-0, 6-4 victory to clinch a third straight title for the Cardinals.
Wesleyan becomes just the second NESCAC program to start a season 20-0, joining elite company in the 2014-15 Williams squad that finished 25-0, winning the NESCAC and NCAA Championship that season.
The Cardinals are set to make their seventh all-time appearance in the NCAA Tournament while marking the sixth consecutive season that Wesleyan has qualified for national postseason play.