PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Turning in its best performance in three years, the Plymouth State College women's tennis team captured third place over the weekend in the annual Little East Conference Championships, hosted by Rhode Island College.
The University of Southern Maine scored 20 points to capture its first LEC team title, edging out defending champion Rhode Island College, which had 17 points. PSC was a solid third with 12 points, followed by UMass Boston fourth (7 points), UMass Dartmouth fifth (5) and Western Connecticut sixth (0).
The Panthers had three singles players advance to the finals, with one individual champion. It is the first singles champion for PSC in six years. The third place is an improvement over last year's fifth place, and the team's best since capturing third in 1997.
"I was very happy with our third place," said PSC head coach Judy Switzer. "That's what I wanted. And we were a strong third, not just barely squeaking by. Our girls played singles for all it was worth, but we need to improve our doubles. If we had played better doubles, perhaps we could have done even better."
Leading the way for PSC was senior Jamie Hupper (Merrimack, NH), who captured the title at No. 6 singles. She defeated Maureen Lapre of RIC in the semi-finals, 6-2, 6-2, and edged Emily McArdle of USM in the final, 6-2, 6-7 (7-4), 7-5. Hupper is only the second PSC player to capture an LEC singles crown, and the first since Holly Sarni won the No. 2 title in 1994.
"Jamie won a royal battle over the Southern Maine player, who is also a senior," said Switzer. "She was up 5-3 in the second set, and lost the set in a tiebreaker, but she showed great maturity in coming back to win that third set."
Two other Panthers advanced to the finals in their respective flights - freshman Katie Olsen (Reading, Mass.) and sophomore Sarah Kasuba (Stratford, Conn.). Olsen was defeated in the final at No. 2 singles, and Kasuba was knocked off in the final at No. 5 singles.
The Panthers' other three singles entries were eliminated in the semi-finals - sophomore Sadie Roy (Lewiston, Maine) at No. 1, junior Becky Stanley (Peterborough, N.H.) at No. 3, and freshman Molly Barnaby (Portsmouth, NH) at No. 4.
In doubles action, sophomore Stacy Wright (Harwich, Mass.) and freshman Cally Thorup (Cumberland, Maine) won their opening round match at No. 3, but were eliminated in the semi-finals. The tandems of Roy and Olsen at No. 1 doubles and Hupper and Stanley at No. 2 doubles were eliminated in their first outings.
The Panthers completed the dual match season with a 4-6 overall record, the best since 1997.
"The team also showed maturity and improvement over last year," said Switzer. "We got a number of comments from other coaches saying how much we have improved. The showing at the Little East Tournament gives us confidence to keep building, and shows us that our play has improved."