READING, Pa. — The Penn State Berks women's tennis team punched its ticket to the NCAA Tournament after defeating Penn State Abington, 5-1, in the North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) Championship on Thursday afternoon at the Birchwood Tennis Club.
Berks won the title for the third time in four years and the ninth time in program history. The Nittany Lions have won their seventh consecutive contest, and improve to 9-5 on the season. Abington saw its season come to a close with an overall record of 6-8.
In last year's championship, Abington got the best of Berks by a 5-2 margin. Berks avoided an early deficit by claiming two of the three doubles bouts. The No. 2 team of Alyssa Miller and Violet Tran topped Stephanie Jin and Fatoumata Cisse by a score of 8-3 to get Berks its first point in the race of five. Lucrezia Pulcini and Deismy Jimenez notched another point for Berks with an 8-3 victory over Pamala Dayley and Isabella Blackewell at third doubles. Abington's top pair of Michelle Mirjani and Marta Tymchenko edged out Caroline Bashore and Laura Youwakim, to deny Berks the doubles sweep.
Heading into singles play, Berks was in need of just three points to seal the conference title. They moved to a 3-1 lead when Pulcini had an 6-1, 6-3 triumph at fifth singles. Miller got redemption from an early season setback to Jin, with a 6-3, 6-3 victory at No. 1 singles to bring Berks within one-point of the overall win.
At No. 4 singles, Tran opened up the match with a 6-4 first set win over Cisse. The second set was a battle until the very end, with Tran emerging as the winner after taking the tie-break 7-4 and ultimately winning the set, 7-6.
Berks will await the NCAA Selection Show to see where they will head and who they will play in the programs first ever trip to the NCAA Tournament. This is the first season the NEAC has received an automatic qualifier to the NCAA Tournament. In year's past, the winner of the NEAC would play the conference winner of the North Atlantic Conference (NAC) to earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament.