-- Preview courtesy of the NESCAC --
HADLEY, Mass. – The nationally-ranked No. 5 Wesleyan women's tennis team has earned the No. 3 seed in the 2018 NESCAC Women's Tennis Championships. Play begins on Friday, May 4 with first-round contests between No. 4 Tufts and No. 5 Amherst, and No. 3 Wesleyan and No. 6 Bowdoin, both matches scheduled for 9 a.m. The winners will advance to the semifinals on Saturday, May 5 and the championship match is scheduled for 9 a.m. on Sunday, May 6.
Tufts (11-5, 6-3 NESCAC) earned the No. 4 seed and will face No. 5 Amherst (10-8, 4-4 NESCAC) in the first round. The Jumbos advanced to last year's semifinals as the No. 3 seed where they fell to eventual-champion Williams. Tufts has qualified for all but one NESCAC Championship and is looking for its first title. The host Mammoths are seeking their 10th title and have qualified for the NESCAC Tournament for the fourth year in a row. Tufts and Amherst have met five times in championship play with the Mammoths holding a 4-1 advantage in the series. Tufts earned its first win over Amherst in NESCAC postseason play with a 5-1 quarterfinal victory in 2017.
The winner of the Tufts/Amherst match will meet No. 1 Williams (16-0, 7-0 NESCAC) in the semifinals. The Ephs will be looking to win their first NESCAC title under first-year head coach Anik Cepeda. Williams has won eight NESCAC Championships, including three straight, and enters the tournament unbeaten. The Ephs own a 3-0 record against the Jumbos and are 3-7 versus the Mammoths in NESCAC postseason play.
The other first-round match features No. 3 Wesleyan (11-2, 7-2 NESCAC) squaring off against No. 6 Bowdoin (9-11, 4-4 NESCAC). The Cardinals set a program record with seven NESCAC victories to earn their highest seed ever. They are also making their 10th postseason appearance. Wesleyan opened the season with five straight wins before dropping an 8-1 decision to top-seeded Williams. The Cardinals are in search of their first title. The Polar Bears have qualified for every NESCAC Championship and have advanced to the semifinals eight times. Bowdoin boasts a 2-1 record against Wesleyan in championship play and the two teams last met in the 2017 quarterfinals with the Polar Bears posting a 5-3 victory.
Middlebury (13-2, 6-1 NESCAC) is the No. 2 seed and will play the winner of Wesleyan/Bowdoin. This is the Panthers' 17th postseason appearance as they pursue their first NESCAC title. Middlebury advanced to the championship match the past two seasons but fell to Williams both times. The Panthers have won six straight matches entering the tournament. They are 3-1 against the Polar Bears, most recently posting a 5-2 win in the 2017 semifinals. Middlebury and Wesleyan have never met in NESCAC postseason play.
The format of the NESCAC Women's Tennis Championship changed in the spring of 2006 and features six teams vying for the NESCAC crown. Prior to 2006, the event was set up as an individual flighted tournament that included players from all 11 member institutions. The championship field is now chosen by a tournament selection committee, which seeds the six participating teams, with the top two seeds receiving a first-round bye.
Results of each match and updated schedules will be available at the conclusion of each day at NESCAC.com.