Women’s Tennis Earns NEAC West Division Playoff Berth

AURORA, N.Y. – With a conference record of 5-2 this spring, the Wells College women's tennis team has qualified for the North Eastern Athletic Conference postseason for the fifth time in six years, the league office announced late Tuesday. Wells returns to the postseason for the second-straight year after the top-seeded Express fell in the 2012 conference title game to Penn St.-Berks.

To determine who will lay claim to the NEAC Women's Tennis West Division championship, the Express will face-off against the Nittany Lions of Penn St.-Abington, the No. 2 seed in the tournament, at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, Apr. 27 at the Birchwood Tennis Club in Clarks Summit, Pa. The top-seeded Nittany Lions of Penn St.-Berks will play the No. 4 seed Penn St.-Harrisburg. The winners of each match will face-off in the championship match at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday.

The team champion emerging from Saturday's action will face-off against the winner of the NEAC Women's Tennis East Division championship at the Tri-City Tennis Club in Latham, N.Y. on Sunday, May 5 at 11:00 a.m. The winner of that match will be crowned the conference champion and earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament which begins on Tuesday, May 21 at Stowe Stadium in Kalamazoo, Mich.

The individual tournament will take place on Sunday, Apr. 28 and will consist of the top-four seeded student-athletes for first through sixth singles and first through third doubles, where each flight will see the No. 1 seed take on the No. 4 seed and the No. 2 seed take on the No. 3 seed. The winners will then move on to the championship round, while those that lose will be placed into a consolation bracket.

This championship round will then produce six singles position champions and three doubles position champions, with those student-athletes also making up the All-Conference First Team. The runners-up from those flights will comprise the remaining All-Conference teams, both second and third team.

In 2012-13, Wells posted a 7-9 overall record that includes a 6-2 record in the month of April to clinch a postseason berth. This spring, all but one member of the women's tennis team posted a winning overall record in singles play while all three doubles partnerships went a combined 17-7 for Wells.

Senior captain Caitlyn Copfer (Clinton, N.Y.), who played the majority of her season at No. 1 singles, took over the program lead with 25 career singles victories to set a modern-era program record in that category. Across her four-year career with the Express, Copfer has earned 25 singles victories for Wells, eclipsing Lisa Gibson '06 who posted 23 singles wins from 2002 to 2005. Current records display Catherine Babbitt '83 as having 24 career singles victories, but statistics from the 1982 spring season are currently unavailable – Wells became a full-time NCAA Division III member prior to the 1986-87 academic year.

Additionally, through eight matches at No. 3 singles for the Express, Ayumi Takeuchi (Eniwa, Hokkaido, Japan) is undefeated (8-0) on the season. No player in Wells history has ever posted an unblemished singles record with more than five matches played – Babbitt was 12-1 in 1981 while both Amber Garnett (2001) and Ana Lucia Riley '11 (2010) posted 9-1 marks to conclude their seasons.

Copfer and Takeuchi are 6-2 overall this season at No. 1 doubles, while freshman Taryn Heath (Homer, N.Y.) and junior Brittany Vanno (Whitesboro, N.Y.) are 5-3 overall at No. 2 doubles. Freshman Brooke Benedetto (Williamstown, N.Y.) and senior Kelly Pietruch (Whitesboro, N.Y.) are 5-2 at No. 3 doubles. Pietruch has also performed admirably in singles play for Wells, posting a 7-1 mark for the Express this spring.

The Wells women's tennis team has claimed four conference titles in their history, winning four Private College Athletic Conference championships from 1977 to 1981 under long time Head Coach Peter Balbert. The Express did not participate within the Atlantic Women's Collegiate Conference during its history spanning from 1996 to 2007, but joined the North Eastern Athletic Conference prior to the 2007-08 academic year.

Within NEAC play, the Express have qualified as a team in four out of their five years of conference membership. In 2008, the Express posted a 5-3 loss to the Nittany Lions of Penn St.-Berks but were awarded an NCAA bid due to the NCAA provisional status of the league champion at that time. Most recently, the Express were bounced from the tournament last year in the championship as the top-seeded Express posted a tightly contested 5-4 loss to Penn St.-Berks in 2012.

The four conference championship titles by the women's tennis program are the most of any team in recorded history at Wells College.

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