Burke leads Panthers past Anchorwomen
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Senior Sara Burke (Barrington, R.I.) won matches at No. 1 doubles and No. 1 singles Tuesday afternoon to lead fourth-seeded Plymouth State University to a 5-2 victory over fifth-seeded Rhode Island College in the first round of the 2012 Little East Conference Women's Tennis Tournament.
The host Panthers, which edged the Anchorwomen 5-4 in the regular season meeting, swept the three doubles matches to start off the scoring, coming from behind to win two of the three. PSU and RIC split the first four singles matches to be completed, with Burke sealing the victory for the Panthers with a 7-5, 6-0 victory at No. 1 singles. Freshman Andra Dion (Ashland, N.H.) was also a double-winner for PSU to help sink the Anchorwomen.
PSU, which improves to 8-6 overall, advances to a semifinal match Thursday at 3:00 p.m. at top-seeded and regular season champion Bridgewater State University. RIC completes its season at 4-10 overall.
Burke and junior Molly Heartfield (Dorset, Vt.) posted a solid 8-3 victory for PSU at No. 1 doubles. The Panther freshman duo of Nitsa Ioannides (El Cajon, Calif.) and Dion came back from a 7-4 deficit at No. 2 to pull out a 9-7 triumph, and juniors Jane Duggan (Saunderstown, R.I.) and Chelsea Thibeault (Manchester, N.H./Central) rallied from down 6-5 to pull out the win in a tiebreaker, 9-8 (7-5). Burke and Heartfield are now 10-2 at No. 1 doubles this season while Ioannides and Dion are 7-5 at No. 2 and the Duggan/Thibeault tandem is 6-3 at No. 3.
Dion claimed the match at No. 4 singles for PSU, and moments later freshman Tressa Cannata (Cranston, R.I.) put the Anchorwomen on the board with a straight-set win at No. 5. Sophomore Janice Wang (Branchburg, N.J.) took the No. 3 singles match for the visitors, 6-4, 6-3, before Burke closed out the match with a 7-5, 6-0 decision at No. 1, improving her season record to 10-4.
Burke continued her climb in the PSU record books. She collected her 31st career singles victory (31-20), which ranks tied for third all-time at Plymouth State in career singles wins and tops all-time at No. 1 singles.
PSU faces a tough challenge in Thursday's semifinal at BSU. The Bears defeated the Panthers, 8-1, in the regular season meeting en route to an 11-2 overall record and an 8-0 conference mark.
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