The Lady Hawks couldn’t soar above the net this time.
In a heated rivalry game, the New Paltz tennis team lost in the title match at the 2011 SUNYAC conference championships on Sunday, Oct. 9 to fellow No. 1 seed SUNY Geneseo by a final score of 5-1.
“It was a highly contested match,” Head Coach Robert Bruley said. “It was just a grind; there comes a point where you just can’t win any more matches.”
The Hawks flew to the top of the standings this season, finishing 8-2 and staying undefeated while playing at home. After securing the No.1 seed in the Eastern Conference of the SUNYAC championship, the team defeated SUNY Oswego and SUNY Oneonta at the Eastside Racquet Club over the weekend before eventually falling to Geneseo.
Bruley said a rivalry has formed between the two programs, as the two teams have battled for the top conference spot since 2006.
“Both of our losses this year came from Geneseo,” Bruley said. “They brought in a great recruiting class, but there is a huge rivalry between us – the best tennis of the weekend was played in that final match.”
Third-year Captain Kayla DiPaulo and first-year Devin Tracy won 9-8 at flight doubles, giving the Hawks their only point of the match, while Geneseo came out on top in the other double positions before winning the remaining singles matches.
“The atmosphere felt as if Devin and I had to prove ourselves because many people were probably expecting Geneseo to win,” DiPaulo said. “After she hit that volley past our opponent at net to win the match, I yelled in excitement and was just so excited that we had won.”
In the other doubles matches, Geneseo’s Julia Passik and Monica Vieth defeated second-year Paige Munroe and her partner third-year Alli Esposito 8-0, while first-year Jessica Smith and fourth-year Juliette Brandon lost to their opponents 8-0 as well.
Brandon said the team went into the championship game with a positive attitude and were mentally prepared to face Geneseo.
“Although we didn’t win we played our hearts out and they were all great matches to watch, I don’t think any one of us could be disappointed in our performance,” Brandon said.
Looking forward to the spring portion of their season – which begins in late March – Bruley said he was encouraged by the growth the younger players of the team had made and the strides their returning players have made.
Bruley also believed the team’s experience playing at all levels, including last year’s trip to the NCAA National Championships, will be helpful as the team looks to continue their success.
“Everyone wants to beat New Paltz at the moment,” Bruley said. “Our new players needed to get used to playing under pressure. The girls handled it well and we can’t wait for that second season to start.”