PHILADELPHIA, Pa. - Saint Michael's College women's tennis sophomores Hannah Benoit (Mystic, Conn./Saint Bernard School) and Caroline Toutoungi (Weston, Conn./Weston) both advanced to the third round of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) East Regional Championship on Saturday at the Legacy Youth Tennis and Education Center and will continue to compete on Sunday.
Nine Purple Knights took part on the opening day of the tournament, as some matches are also being held at the Salaman Tennis Courts on campus of Philadelphia University. Saint Michael's players are participating in the event for the first time since 2007.
Benoit and Toutoungi were among 88 student-athletes entered in the "B" singles draw and combined to go 3-0 on Saturday. In the first round, Benoit earned an 8-5 win over a Goldey-Beacom College player who was a semifinalist at the 2011 ITA East Regional Championship, before downing a foe from Northeast-10 Conference counterpart Bentley University, 8-3, in the second round. Toutoungi, who received a first-round bye, claimed an 8-5 win in the second round against a Molloy College competitor.
Senior Emily Magee (Queensbury, N.Y./Queensbury) was the lone Purple Knight in the 44-player main draw, falling in her opening-round match despite losing her first set in a tie-breaker. Magee's 7-6 (8-6), 6-2 setback came against a player from Queens (N.Y.) College, which has advanced to the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 the past three years.
Five teammates joined Benoit and Toutoungi in the "B" singles bracket, with each falling in their lone matches. First-year Alexandra Sulkin (Ipswich, Mass./Ipswich) dropped an 8-1 decision to a player who was a tournament semifinalist last year and hails from Chestnut Hill College, a qualifier for the 2012 NCAA Tournament. Senior Jean-Marie McGrath (Niwot, Colo./Alexander Dawson School) and sophomore Caroline Martin (Scituate, Mass./Scituate) both absorbed defeats against members of NE-10 counterpart Stonehill College, which has qualified for the past four NCAA Tournaments. Martin fell in the first round, 8-2, and McGrath dropped an 8-4 match in the second round after earning a bye.
First-year Erica Bundrick (Mattituck, N.Y./Mattituck) lost by an 8-2 count against a foe from Concordia (N.Y.) College, which competed in the last four NCAA Tournaments, while senior Alex Dalton (South Easton, Mass./Oliver Ames) lost 8-3 against a Roberts Wesleyan College competitor. Bundrick and Dalton were both dealt second-round defeats after gaining byes through the first round.
Magee and McGrath found success as one of 21 pairings in the main doubles draw, downing a New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) duo, 9-8 (7-0), in the first round. One member of that NYIT tandem played for the tournament runner-up last year. Magee and McGrath then dropped an 8-1 decision to a Queens pairing that earned the second seed in the bracket.
In "B" doubles, Martin and Toutoungi downed a Georgian Court University duo, 8-2, in the first round before being defeated, 8-5, by a Philadelphia tandem. Bundrick and Sulkin lost by an 8-3 count in the first round against a squad from NE-10 counterpart Adelphia University, which participated in the last three NCAA Tournaments, and Benoit sided with sophomore Kayla Dowd (Longmeadow, Mass./Longmeadow) for an 8-5 loss to Philadelphia in the second round after claiming a first-round bye.