PLYMOUTH, N.H. - Plymouth State University will open play in the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III Women's Tennis Championships this Friday at 10:00 a.m. when the Panthers meet St. Lawrence University at Amherst College in Amherst, Mass.
PSU (8-3) received automatic qualification into the 48-team field as champions of the Little East Conference, one of 32 automatic qualifiers and the first year of the AQ for the LEC. The Panthers captured the LEC Championship last October. St. Lawrence (15-2) received a "Pool B" berth, as the Liberty League does not receive an automatic bid. It is the first national tournament appearance for both teams.
There will be six teams at Amherst this weekend, with the hosts (14-4) and The College of New Jersey (14-1) receiving first-round byes on Friday. The winner of the PSU-St. Lawrence match advances to face Amherst on Saturday at 10:00 a.m., and TCNJ awaits the winner of the first-round match between Hunter College (22-0) and Wilkes University (17-1), which will begin Friday at 1:30 p.m.
St. Lawrence will have the advantage of playing a full spring schedule, including a current 11-match winning streak since the beginning of March. Plymouth State, led by third-year head coach Barbara Rawlsky-Willett, plays women's tennis as a fall sport, and played only one exhibition match this spring.
"We've waited since October for this, and we're just as excited now as we were when we won the Little East Championship," said Rawlsky-Willett. "We're thrilled for the opportunity to play in the NCAA Championships and represent the Little East, and we're really looking forward to the experience. We've been working hard this spring, and we'll give it our best effort as a team and see what happens."
The Panther tennis team this spring includes senior co-captains Erica Huckins (Holderness, N.H./Plymouth Regional) and Brittany Campbell (Newport, R.I./Rogers), juniors Briley Boisvert (Goffstown, N.H./Manchester Trinity) and Joan Kietzman (Plymouth, N.H./Plymouth Regional), sophomore Meghan Rodier (Francestown, N.H./ConVal), and freshmen Amanda Arponen (Plymouth, Mass./Plymouth South), Melissa Castellano (East Northport, N.Y./John Glenn) and Denise Huckins (Holderness, N.H./Plymouth Regional).
Erica Huckins and Kietzman won LEC singles titles last fall at #3 and #5, respectively, both posting 11-3 overall singles records. Kietzman and Rodier teamed up to win the #2 doubles crown and finished with an 11-3 mark.
PSU's No. 1 singles and doubles player from last fall, junior Jill Deyermond (Atkinson, N.H./Timberlane), is studying abroad this semester and will miss the event.
-- 30 --