Tennis finishes second at SUNYAC tournament

The women's tennis team will forge onward in a challenging 2010-2011 season after suffering a tough loss in SUNYACs over fall break.

Entering the three-day SUNYAC tournament undefeated in conference play, the Knights were second to New Paltz, 36-42. The women won four of their seven final matches, but needed six to come out on top.

Coach Jim Chen said that each match was a fight to the end, with almost all going to three sets and some requiring tie-breakers.

"If they had blown us away, we would have said they're better than us," said coach Jim Chen. "Because we came so close, it hurts. It meant so much to [the team]. We didn't blow anything off - we put our best effort forward."

Freshman Lucy Mehrabyan, off the bench from injury, continued her undefeated season as champion of second doubles and second singles with teammate junior Melissa Baker. Sophomore Sarah Shields in fifth doubles and junior Katie Gayvert in third doubles won all of their contests over the weekend.

Their efforts weren't enough to carry a hindered team to the NCAA, at least yet; the SUNYAC champions get an automatic bid. According to Chen, "The format [of the SUNYAC] was not conducive for what we were trying to do to get to the NCAA tournament."

Chen explained that the team was challenged by the "flighted" organization of the SUNYAC tournament, which utilizes brackets that emphasize individual over team performance and do not take regular season performance into account. "It turned out that it was Geneseo against the world," Chen said. Additionally, at least two high-contributing members Geneseo's team faced injuries that prevented them from competing.

The spring portion of the season, however, will afford the Knights the opportunity to obtain an "at large" bid to the NCAA contest. The women will face high-ranked teams including St. Bonaventure University (Division I) and the University of Puerto Rico (Division II). The latter contest will take place in Puerto Rico as part of a trip Chen has organized for the second year in a row. Another highlight of the upcoming season is a match against New York University that will take place in the National Tennis Center, the site of the United States Open.

"The team is fired up and looking forward," Chen said.