The New Paltz women’s tennis team triumphed in the State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) Championships, earning the program its fifth-ever conference title.
“It’s a massive relief after seven years of coming so close to finally win,” said head coach Rob Bruley. “There’s been a lot of hard work this season and it finally paid off.”
This weekend’s matches marked the Hawks’ 17th SUNYAC Championship appearance since the program’s establishment. The women’s tennis team hadn’t won a championship title since 2010, and were happy to finally bring an end to their cold streak.
On Saturday, Oct. 15, the Hawks secured a solid win against Fredonia Blue Devils, 5-0, which marked the fifth-consecutive clean sheet for the Hawks. The following day they faced off against the Oneonta Red Dragons, grabbing a 5-1 victory, and simultaneously winning the championship.
“At first it didn’t really sink in, but after, it felt so good to finally win,” said second-year Victoria Zezula. “We’ve made it to so many finals over the years and to finally have the recognition we deserve is great. Everyone put so much effort into this season.”
Despite the team’s previous victory over the Blue Devils, the Hawks knew they’d have to come with their A-game to ensure their triumph. The first-year duo, Trinity Chow and Laura Koob, secured a solid 8-1 victory against the Blue Devils’ third-year Anna Chiacchia and fourth-year Olivia Miller.
“Our doubles worked really hard to make sure the team won,” Bruley said. “We knew we needed to do well during the doubles matches to take pressure off the singles matches.”
Fourth-year captain Lindsay Haley and first-year Courtney Koran defeated first-year Jane Chiacchia and Taylor Marelli in singles, 6-0, 6-0, respectively, to secure the win for the Hawks.
Gearing up for their match, the Hawks heard that the Red Dragons had defeated seven-time defending champion SUNY Geneseo in the other semi-finals matchup. The Hawks did not let it affect their game, coming away with a clean 5-1 win on Sunday.
The championship matches were a tooth-and-nail tussle for victory, with a litany of close matches. Chow and Koob secured an easy victory in doubles, 8-3, over Fourth-year Alyssa Brault and second-year Julieta Eulau. The second doubles match of the day was a back and forth battle between the Hawks’ Zezula and Haley, and the Red Dragons’ first-year Olivia Fraser and second-year Mya Lipscomb. The duo came away with a nail-biting, 9-8, 7-5 victory.
“We really wanted payback for the last doubles match against Oneonta,” Chow said. “This time we kept away from the net, tried not to get too frustrated and we got our win.”
In singles, Koob earned a victory over fourth-year Alyssa Brault handily, 6-1, 6-1. Koran took care of business in fifth singles, beating first-year Alexandra Dratch, 6-2, 6-1. Haley took the crown for the Hawks with a fierce match against first-year Madeline Carswell ending 6-0, 7-5.
The Hawks finish their season with a spotless 9-0 record, their first perfect season since 2012. Chow was awarded the “Most Valuable Player” (MVP) award for the SUNYAC conference, Haley won MVP of the tournament and Koob was given Rookie of the Conference. Additionally, Bruley was awarded Coach of the Year for the conference.
“It was a very rewarding experience, everyone was in tears when we won,” Haley said. “From the beginning we knew we had a good team and competition, but we stuck it out and came out on top. I’m glad to know I’m leaving the team in good hands next year.”