Women’s tennis: FPU wins NE-10 title, grabs NCAA tourney berth

  • Liria Loria (left) and Himani Mor (right) of the Franklin Pierce University women's tennis team celebrate after winning the NE-10 championship match Sunday. Photo by Meg Stokes—

Published: 5/3/2021 6:45:37 AM

Not even the rain could slow down the Franklin Pierce University women’s tennis team on Sunday afternoon, in the title match of the Northeast-10 Conference Championship. Despite a delay of nearly an hour early in singles play, the top-seeded Ravens prevailed on their home courts, 4-2, over third-seeded Stonehill, to claim the program’s first-ever NE10 title. Graduate student Estela Carra provided the decisive point, as she finished off a 6-3, 6-2 win at sixth singles, which led her teammates to pile on top of her behind the baseline at Court 1.

With the win, Franklin Pierce improves to 12-0 and claims the NE10’s automatic berth to the upcoming NCAA Championship. The Ravens will learn their East Region seed and competition site during the NCAA’s selection show, which will be broadcast on ncaa.com at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday.

With the loss, Stonehill falls to 10-3 and will have to rely on an at-large bid to qualify for NCAAs. The Skyhawks were the two-time defending NE10 champs, and have now been NE10 finalists for seven straight seasons.

The outcome of Saturday’s title bout effectively turned on a marathon match at second singles between Franklin Pierce graduate student Himani Mor and Stonehill sophomore Steffi Antao. With the team match tied at 2-2, fifth singles was headed for a third set as well, and the Ravens had sixth singles well in-hand. It all added up to put Mor and Antao in the spotlight, as they locked horns deep into the third set, which ultimately went to a tiebreak.

Mor trailed by as much as 4-1 early in the tie break, then drew even at 4-4. Antao went back out front, 5-4, but then Mor stormed back with three straight points to take the tiebreak, 7-5, and the match, 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (5).

With the point from second singles in their pockets, it was only a matter of time before Carra sealed the deal at sixth singles. Up a set and leading 5-2, she finished off the 6-3, 6-2 victory over sophomore Lily Peter in style, with a break of serve. On the decisive point, Carra returned serve on her backhand, then watched as Peter put the ball into the net. Carra dropped to the ground on her back behind the baseline, and moments later her teammates piled atop her in celebration of the program’s first NE10 title.

Earlier in the day, Franklin Pierce opened play by taking the doubles point, via a pair of 6-1 victories. At second doubles, freshman Maria Penalver Aguilo and sophomore Laura Alvarez Tello took care of senior Isabelle Porter and junior Samantha Ormesher. At third doubles, Carra and freshman Zoe Asterio Correa dispatched Peter and junior Emma Markaryan.

Stonehill held a 5-2 lead at first doubles, but the match was abandoned after the doubles point was clinched.

Franklin Pierce briefly made it a 2-0 lead, when sophomore Liria Loria wrapped up a 6-2, 6-1 win over Porter at third singles. Stonehill cut it right back to 2-1 with a win at first singles, where sophomore Cristina Solorzano Valencia went past Penalver Aguilo, 6-2, 6-4.

Stonehill picked up a win at fourth singles as well, as Markaryan rallied past Alvarez Tello, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4, to level the match at 2-2 and set up the dramatic crescendo at second singles. The three-set affair at fifth singles was left unfinished after the team match was decided.


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