GARDEN CITY, N.Y. – The fourth-seeded Merrimack College women’s tennis team defeated top-seeded Adelphi University, 5-4, in comeback fashion to advance to the Northeast-10 Championship. The Warriors will look to win back-to-back titles in the championship match on Sunday.
Score: Merrimack 5 | Adelphi 4
Records: Merrimack (11-4, 8-4 NE-10) | Adelphi (14-4, 12-0 NE-10)
Location: Adelphi Tennis Courts | Garden City, N.Y.
What They Said
Head coach Aaron Bergeron: “I’m so proud of the fight these girls brought to Long Island. It was one of the tightest matches that I have ever been a part of and I couldn’t be happier with how we handled the pressure. They earned this win and battled to beat a great team. We’re shifting our focus now to our next match which is sure to be another battle.”
How It Happened
This semifinal matchup was as close as the score indicates, with the teams battling point-for-point throughout the contest.
The Warriors took a 2-1 lead into singles play after nearly sweeping the Panthers during the doubles portion of the match.
All three doubles matches began simultaneously. No. 3 ended first, with freshmen Danielle Dunn (Middleton, Mass.) and Mackenzie Blair (Thomaston, Conn.) defeating their opposition from Adelphi, 8-3.
At No. 1 doubles, All-Conference First Team members Grace Messina (Caracas, Venezuela) and Chealsey Giatrelis (Centerville, Mass.) defeated their opponents, 8-4, to ensure Merrimack would have the lead entering singles play.
The most competitive match resided at No. 2, where Shakee Messina (Caracas, Venezuela) and Rachel Muller (North Andover, Mass.) played an exciting match against conference Rookie of the Year Stefani Lineva and Rebecca Fakas. The contest was tied 7-7, with each team battling back-and-forth, when the Panthers rattled off two points for the 9-7 victory.
The Panthers, who went through the regular season without losing a NE-10 match, fought back into the game during singles play. No. 2 and No. 4 singles finished first, with Adelphi winning both to take a 3-2 lead.
At No. 6, Blair surged past her opponent, dominating with a 6-1, 6-0 victory. Unfortunately for the Warriors, Muller lost to Fakas at No. 5 to give Adelphi the lead back at 4-3.
Due to darkness, singles matches at No. 1 and No. 3 were moved inside. Grace Messina triumphed at No. 1 in a three-set thriller which pitted Messina, the two-time Player of the Year, against Lineva, the recently crowed Rookie of the Year. Messina would get the best of her rookie counterpart, 6-2, 5-7 and 6-4 to tie the match at 4-4.
Shortly after that, Giatrelis defeated Katarina Barborikova in a third-set tiebreak to win the contest and the match, giving the Warriors the 5-4 victory. Merrimack advances to the NE-10 Championship for the second consecutive season, and by doing so, hands Adelphi its first loss to a conference opponent this year.
1. Grace Messina/Chealsey Giatrelis (MER) def. Charlotte Moreau/Katarina Barborikova (ADE) 8-4
2. Stefani Lineva/Rebecca Fakas (ADE ) def. Shakee Messina/Rachel Muller (MER) 9-7
3. Danielle Dunn/Mackenzie Blair (MER) def. Joanna Haich/Bianca Bernal (ADE) 8-3
1. Grace Messina (MER) def. Stefani Lineva (ADE) 6-2, 5-7, 6-4
2. Charlotte Moreau (ADE) def. Shakee Messina (MER) 6-1, 6-2
3. Chealsey Giatrelis (MER) def. Katarina Barborikova (ADE) 7-6 (3), 3-6, 7-6 (4)
4. Joanna Haich (ADE) def. Danielle Dunn (MER) 6-3, 6-1
5. Rebecca Fakas (ADE) def. Rachel Muller (MER) 6-2, 6-0
6. Mackenzie Blair (MER) def. Isabella Ramjeet (ADE) 6-1, 6-0
Merrimack will travel to the winner of the other semifinal match, between No. 2 Southern New Hampshire and No. 3 Stonehill, for the NE-10 Championship. The contest is scheduled for 1 p.m.