DANBURY, Conn. - The Plymouth State University women's tennis team faced an uphill battle late Saturday night in its attempt to repeat as Little East Conference champions.
The Panthers were still alive for a second straight title, but 2003 champion Rhode Island College had the upper hand midway through the two-day tournament. PSU edged RIC by one-half point for last year's championship.
In competition through Day One, RIC won all three doubles flights and had all six singles entries still alive. PSU, on the other hand, did not get out of the semifinals in any of the three doubles flights, and had semifinalists in five of the six singles brackets.
Three Panthers were the top seed in their flight, and still had a chance at an individual singles crown -- senior Rachel Xavier (Meredith, N.H.) at No. 4, senior Sarah Cole (North Waterboro, Maine) at No. 5, and freshman Meghan Rodier (Francestown, N.H./ConVal) at No. 6. Junior Erica Huckins (Plymouth, N.H.) received the #2 seed at No. 3 singles and sophomore Jill Deyermond (Atkinson, N.H.) is the #3 seed at No. 2 singles, and both had semifinals matches late Saturday night.
PSU's top player, senior Whitney O'Leary (Sagamore Beach, Mass.), was eliminated from the No. 1 singles flight in the opening round by second-seeded Liz Barrette of RIC, 8-5.
Two Panther doubles teams were knocked out in the semifinals of their flights - second-seeded Deyermond and Xavier at No. 2 doubles, and top-seeded Cole and senior Liz Duell (Hopewell Valley, R.I.) at No. 3 doubles. O'Leary and Huckins were the fifth seed in the No. 1 doubles flight and were defeated in the opening round.
RIC is seeking its fourth LEC title in the last seven years, having won in the odd years (1999, 2001, and 2003). PSU won its first conference championship in 2004.
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