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PSC finishes 2nd at LEC Champ.

BOSTON, Mass. -- The Plymouth State College women's tennis team had its best finish in six years at the ninth annual Little East Conference Championships held over the weekend at the University of Massachusetts Boston.

The Panthers finished runner-up to the University of Southern Maine, a big improvement over last year's fifth place and the best for PSC since the '95 and '96 teams finished second. PSC had finalists in five of the nine flights, but lost all five to settle for second place.

USM placed first with 22 points, PSC was second with 14, followed by Rhode Island University with 13, UMass Dartmouth with 10 and UMass Boston with four. Western Connecticut did not participate. Plymouth State had finished 5-0 in LEC dual matches this fall.

"The kids played really hard and really well," said PSC coach Judy Switzer. "We had such a disappointing finish at last year's tournament, and we're happy we didn't have a repeat of that. We would've liked to have won it, but it was nice to finish second."

PSC's top player, senior Jamie Hazard (Foster, RI), who had to battle through three sets in three of the four matches she played, advanced to the championship match at both No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles. She defeated Emily Jose of Southern Maine in her singles semifinal, 5-7, 6-1, 6-4, but lost the title match to Denise Ridge of UMass Boston, 1-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-1.

Hazard and doubles teammate Katie Olsen (Reading, MA), who was overcoming an injury in the last two weeks of the season, took a No. 1 doubles semifinal in straight sets, but were defeated in the finals by Rhode Island College's tandem of Elizabeth Barrette and Donna Vongratsavay, 3-6, 6-2, 6-4.

Hazard now has a singles record of 8-2, while she and Olsen are 7-1 in doubles.

Freshman Whitney O'Leary (Sagamore Beach, MA) also advanced to two finals - No. 3 singles and No. 2 doubles. She defeated UMD's Heather Mortimer in the singles semifinals before dropping a 6-3, 7-5 decision in the final to USM's April Cohen. O'Leary and classmate Jessie Leone (Cataumet, MA) took a three-set match (6-1, 4-6, 6-4) from UMass Dartmouth in the doubles semifinals, but lost in three sets (4-6, 6-4, 6-4) in the championship match to USM's Jose and Megan Allyn. O'Leary is now 5-3 in singles and 7-2 in doubles.

PSC's No. 3 doubles team of sophomore Cassie Cash (Bath, Maine) and freshman Rachel Xavier (Meredith, NH/Pilgrim {RI}) won their semifinal match in a third-set tiebreaker, 6-1, 2-6, 7-6 (7-1), over UMD opponents, but lost in straight sets (6-2, 6-2) in the final to USM's Katherine Welch and Catie MCCarthy.

Four PSC singles players were eliminated in the semifinals of their flights - senior Sarah Kasuba (Stratford, Conn.) at No. 2, junior Cally Thorup (Cumberland, Maine) at No. 4, Xavier at No. 5, and junior Lindsay Coletti (Hudson, MA) at No. 6.

For the first time in many years, PSC will send a contingent to the New England Championships, which are next weekend (Oct. 18-20) at Amherst College.