Dartmouth, Mass. -- The UMass Dartmouth women’s tennis team begins its quest for the 2018 Little East Conference title on Wednesday afternoon, as Head Coach Doug Chapman’s Corsairs have earned the fourth seed in this year’s championship tournament and will host fifth-seeded Bridgewater State in quarterfinal round action on the UMD Courts beginning at 2:30 pm EDT.
UMass Dartmouth recorded its sixth 10-win season in seven years and the 12th in program history in regular season play, as Chapman’s squad finished at 10-4 overall and 6-3 in Little East action. The Corsairs, who are making their 11th straight appearance in the LEC post-season field, are looking for their third tournament crown since 2008 that brings with it an automatic berth into next spring’s NCAA Division III Championships.
Chapman’s crew, which brings a six-match winning streak into the post-season, is paced by six-time all-conference senior co-captain Jenna Lahaie (Lakeville, Mass./Apponequet), who has earned all-league accolades in singles play during all three of her first seasons in a stellar career that has produced a 42-19 singles mark and a 41-26 doubles slate. Lahaie posted identical 12-2 records at the top singles and doubles spot this fall for UMass Dartmouth, the latter mark coming in tandem with all-conference junior co-captain Jaime Fastino (Rehoboth, Mass./Dighton-Rehoboth), who was 9-4 at the number two singles position.
The sophomore sister duo of Michelle and Rachel Aftandilian (Watertown, Mass./Watertown) has combined for 17 singles victories at the number three and four spots in the lineup for the Corsairs, while junior Monika Reining (Linsengericht, Germany/Grimmelshausen-Gymnasium) has notched an impressive 11-3 slate at the number five singles position. Sophomore Emma Sokolovsky (Canton, Mass./Canton) rounds out the starting singles lineup for Chapman after collecting seven wins in 11 decisions, including five in Little East play.
Reining and junior Natasha Shiku (North Grafton, Mass./Grafton) have won their three matches at the number two doubles spot heading into post-season play for UMass Dartmouth, while Michelle Aftandilian and fellow sophomore Jordan Martin (Taunton, Mass./Taunton) own five overall victories at the number three doubles position this fall for the Corsairs.
Chapman, who sports an overall mark of 58-34 (.631) in his sixth season at the helm, will see his team face a familiar post-season foe in Bridgewater State, as UMass Dartmouth will meet the Bears for the third time in the last four years. Bridgewater State, which posted a 7-8 regular season mark that included four LEC triumphs this fall, avenged a regular season setback last October to knock out the Corsairs in the Little East semifinals by a 5-4 margin, and the two teams also met for the conference crown in 2015 with UMass Dartmouth eking out a 5-4 victory to claim the NCAA tournament bid. Chapman’s squad continued that 5-4 trend this year after topping Bridgewater State back on October 3rd on the UMD Courts, as the Corsairs overcame a 2-1 deficit after doubles in that contest.
The winner of Wednesday’s UMass Dartmouth-Bridgewater State quarterfinal round match advances to take on top-seeded Rhode Island College in the Little East semifinals on Friday, October 19th at the RIC Tennis Center in Providence, R.I. that begins at 2:00 pm EDT. Wednesday’s other quarterfinal round clash pits sixth-seeded Southern Maine visiting second-seeded Salem State, and the winner of that contest will take on second-seeded Plymouth State in Friday’s other semifinal clash. The 2018 Little East championship match will take place on Saturday, October 20th at the RIC Tennis Center in Providence, R.I.
For more information on this year’s Little East Women’s Tennis Championships, please visit www.littleeast.com/tournaments/wten/2018-19/index.