The Bobcats waited and waited for Quinnipiac to be called in the NCAA women’s tennis selection show Tuesday afternoon. When they heard it, they not only let out their emotions, but also realized exactly what was going to happen.
Quinnipiac will travel to UCLA to face the sixth-seeded Bruins in the first round of the NCAA tournament May 14 at 3:00 p.m. The winner will face the winner of UNLV and San Diego on May 15 at 3:00 p.m.
“We’re going to go out and play hard-nosed tennis like we always do and we’re going to do our best,” Quinnipiac head coach Mike Quitko said.
Quinnipiac’s players jumped for joy when they heard their school announced on the online selection show.
“It’s really exciting,” team captain Adrienne Markison said. “This is what we’ve worked the whole season for. Our hard work paid off.”
The Bobcats won the Northeast Conference title, clinching an automatic bid to the national tournament. They defeated the Fairleigh Dickinson Knights on April 17, 4-3, to advance.
Video by Matt Eisenberg
It’s the sixth time the team has made the tournament in program history, its first since 2008. Quinnipiac lost to Miami 4-0 in the 2008 first round and to UCLA in 2007.
Quitko remembers the 2007 trip to Los Angeles to face Stella Sampras Webster’s UCLA team.
“They’re a real good team, a great team,” Quitko said. “They’re well coached by Stella Sampras Webster. We were out there in ’07 and played them. They were very hospitable – except on the tennis court.”
Sampras Webster, the older sister of tennis legend Pete Sampras, has coached the Bruins the past 15 years and earned the 2008 National Championship, UCLA’s first women’s tennis title in school history.
The Bobcats will go into the tournament with Quitko leading the way again after he won his eighth NEC Coach of the Year. Quitko led the Bobcats to tournament appearances every year from 2004 until 2008.
“It’s just not anything you’re going to get tired of,” Quitko said. “It’s exciting. It’s different. It’s great.”
Juliet Labarthe won the NEC Rookie of the Year with a 24-5 singles record on the season. She won eight NEC Rookie of the Week honors – a conference record – and had an .828 winning percentage, the highest among all players in the conference.
Labarthe, freshman Lavinia Cristescu and sophomore Sarah Viebrock were all named to the NEC Singles All-Conference First team, while Markison and Lisanne Steinart were selected to the NEC Singles All-Conference Second Team. Markison and Rachel Cantor were named to the NEC Doubles All-Conference Second Team.
“They’ve played as well as any team I’ve had,” Quitko said.
“We’re really ready,” Markison said. “We’ve been practicing every day. We’ve still been playing matches against each other. We’re ready to go; we’re ready to take on UCLA.”
Markison played at the Los Angeles Tennis Center once before in her junior year of high school.
“Their facilities are amazing,” she said. “They have one of the most fantastic facilities I’ve ever seen, in terms if tennis. It’s crazy.”
While Quitko joked that it would be a long plane ride, Markison is excited for the opportunity to play across the country.
“It’s a trip that we don’t usually take,” she said. “It’s far away and it’s going to be like a vacation for us.”
Markison, a senior, hopes to get at least one more win in her final matches as a Bobcat.
“It’ll be my final match ever. I’m graduating, so it’d be nice to get one more win under my belt.”
Maya Johansson, who is 20-5 in singles play and has a 15-match win streak, Pamela Montez, who has a 29-7 singles record, and Carling Seguso, who is 21-1, lead the Bruins. Andrea Remynse has a 23-6 singles record, while the duos of Courtney Dolehide and Remynse and Noelle Hickey and McCall Jones have 15-7 and 14-4 records, respectively.
“In tennis you have to have four upsets, not one,” Quitko said. “I think if we go out and we play our toughest, there’s always a shot.”