With many teams back in action this weekend, some for the last time before their championship events, there was extra motivation to earn those last crucial results before seedings are decided. The National Collegiate Championships lie on the horizon at the end of February, and some of this weekend’s results will impact the positioning for those events too.
Saturday was the busy day for close matches this weekend, with 13 matches on the day finishing with 5-4 or 6-3 scores. Several teams made upset bids, with only one coming to fruition on Saturday.
No. 17 MIT just fell behind No. 16 Williams in the rankings last week, but the Engineers had the home court advantage and the motivation with a Hoehn (B) Division place on the line.
As expected, the match was very close throughout, coming down to the final players on court: Number 2’s Joe O’Connor for MIT and Wyatt Khosrowshahi for Williams. Khosrowshahi jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead, but O’Connor fought back to tie the match at 2-2 with a big 11-9 fourth game. O’Connor carried the energy and momentum into the deciding fifth game and won decidedly 11-5 to earn the upset win for MIT.
The other upset bids fell just short. Both seventh-ranked Dartmouth teams withstood challenges from the Cornell squads, with the Big Green women outlasting the Big Red 5-4 and the men winning 6-3. The No. 4 Princeton men found themselves in a similar position as MIT against No. 8 Yale, and only a five-game comeback victory by Princeton’s Number 3 Adhitya Raghavan prevented the home upset. The No. 24 Hamilton women handled the challenge from No. 26 Colby, but fell just short of their upset of No. 23 William Smith, 4-5.
The Columbia teams may be peaking at the right time, showing three strong results over the weekend. The No. 9 women, currently on the outside of the Howe (A) Division looking in, made their pitch for a higher spot with a confident 7-2 win over Dartmouth. The No. 11 Lions men also turned the tables on Dartmouth, who were the upset winners last week, scoring a resounding 8-1 victory at home on Sunday. It may be too little, too late for the Lion men, however, as their upset bid against No. 5 Rochester fell just short by a 5-4 margin on Friday evening.
The Yale (No. 4) and Penn (No. 5) women met on Sunday to add another important piece to the rankings puzzle in the jammed bottom half of the Howe Division. As expected, the match went back and forth all day, coming down to the last match on court between rival first-year players Navmi Sharma (Penn) and Gigi Yeung (Yale). After Yeung jumped out to a 2-0 lead, Sharma persevered for two wins of her own, but it was Yeung who would regroup for the clinching fifth-game victory.
All three teams tied for 15th in the latest women’s poll clinched their expected wins, so tiebreakers may be needed in preparation for the NESCAC Championships. Ultimately, the NESCAC results will help determine the final seeding for the women’s team nationals event.
In other notable results, the No. 34 Fordham men flipped their earlier result against No. 33 New York University, earning the 5-4 upset win this weekend. Congratulations to both Williams teams, who captured the annual Little Three competition between them, Amherst, and Wesleyan.