After two seasons of coming up short, the Quinnipiac women’s tennis team did what it has done best over the past eight years. They won the Northeast Conference Championship.
For the sixth time since 2004, the No.1 seeded Bobcats captured the NEC crown, defeating No. 2 seed Fairleigh Dickinson, 4-3, Sunday afternoon at the Mercer County Tennis Center in West Windsor, N.J.
Senior Lisanne Steinert clinched the winning point, defeating Manuela Leme 4-6, 6-4 and 6-0 at No. 5 singles.
“I think it was the last thing she had to do to cap a good career, and she did it,” Quinnipiac head coach Mike Quitko said. “She said she didn’t want to be in that situation, but I knew that if she was forced into that situation, she would do her best to accomplish it. And I’d say 6-0 in the third is pretty good.”
FDU took the first point of the match, winning two of three doubles matches to take a 1-0 lead.
Quinnipiac took four of the six singles matches to clinch the title, including wins by Juliet Labarthe, Sarah Viebrock, Lavinia Cristescu and Steinert.
“I would have never expected to be the last match on the court, and I never ever wanted it because it’s a lot of pressure,” Steinert said. “But I pulled it off.”
“It’s just amazing when you realize you won, all the teammates just come over. It just symbolizes that it’s a team effort to win this championship. They all came over, they hugged me, we all started crying and it was just an amazing feeling.”
Quinnipiac came from behind to defeat No. 4 seed Sacred Heart 5-1 in the semifinals. The Pioneers took the doubles point and took the first set in five of the six singles matches. But Rachel Cantor, Labarthe, Viebrock and Cristescu all came from behind to win in three sets. Adrienne Markison picked up a straight set vicotory.
“We were in trouble,” Quitko said. “But all I asked the kids to do when I went from court to court was ‘just keep figthing. Anything can happen as long you have one more point to spend.’ ”
The Bobcats beat No. 8 Saint Francis (Pa.) 4-0 in the quarterfinals.
The Quinnipiac men’s team entered the conference tournament as the No. 3 seed and the defending champions.
Last year the the Bobcats won the championship as the No. 3 seed, but this year they could not defend their title, as they lost to No.1 seed Sacred Heart, 4-1, in the finals.
“We believed we could [make it back to the finals],” Quitko said. “We lost three from that squad a year ago, so I think we did very well with everybody who played. They put everything on the line.”
Sacred Heart took two of the three doubles matches to take the first point. Kirill Kasyanov, Chadd Sullo and Cole Conrad each took singles points to win the Championship.
Junior James Kwei was the only Bobcat to win his singles match, defeating Nick Mazzarese 6-3, 6-4.
“Quite honestly I thought the guys did very very well,” Quitko said. “We didn’t fulfill our goal of winning the conference, but we got to the finals.
“We obviously were seeded third so we were not seeded to make the finals. We outdid our seed.”
The Bobcats upset No. 2 seed FDU 4-2 in the semifinals. Before that they beat No. 6 seed Mount St. Mary’s 4-0 in the quarterfinals.
Photo courtesy of Quinnipiac Athletics