COLCHESTER, Vt. - Sophomore Alexandra Sulkin (Ipswich, Mass./Ipswich) rallied for a three-set victory on Sunday to complete the Saint Michael's College women's tennis team's 5-4 come-from-behind win over regionally-ranked Southern New Hampshire University at the Tarrant Recreation Center in Northeast-10 Conference play.
The Purple Knights, who trailed 4-1, moved to 9-7 overall and 7-3 in the league while snapping a seven-match losing streak to the perennial power, which they defeated for the first time since April 25, 2008, in an NE-10 Championship semifinal. Southern New Hampshire, which qualified for the past five NCAA Tournaments and is eighth in the latest Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) East Region poll, fell to 12-6 and 8-3.
With the teams tied at four, Sulkin and Penmen sophomore Yolanda Green (Springfield, Mass./Longmeadow) locked up in a lengthy match at No. 5 singles, as the winner would also claim the victory for her team. Sulkin led the opening set by a 6-5 count before Green forced a tie-breaker, which Sulkin led 4-2 before falling by a 7-5 count. The Purple Knight then took the second set, 6-2, to necessitate a third and deciding set. Sulkin rushed out to a 4-0 lead in set No. 3, only to see Green rally to tie at 5-5. Sulkin again claimed an edge at 6-5, but Green won the 12th game to force another tie-breaker. There, Green led by as much as 5-3 before Sulkin notched five of the next six points to cap the 6-7 (5-7), 6-2, 7-6 (8-6) epic.
The Purple Knights trailed 2-1 after doubles, narrowly losing a close match in the top position. Junior Kayla Dowd (Longmeadow, Mass./Longmeadow) and first-year Nicole Kellogg (Burnt Hills, N.Y./Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake) picked up an 8-4 victory at No. 3, while juniors Caroline Martin (Scituate, Mass./Scituate) and Caroline Toutoungi (Weston, Conn./Weston) lost only 8-6 at No. 1 to a duo that improved to 11-2 overall and 7-0 in the league.
The Penmen pulled within match point after a pair of singles wins to forge a 4-1 lead, including as Purple Knight sophomore Erica Bundrick (Mattituck, N.Y./Mattituck) lost her opening set at No. 1 just 6-3 to the 12th-ranked player in the region. Kellogg began the comeback with a 6-2, 6-4 victory in the second position before junior Hannah Benoit (Mystic, Conn./Saint Bernard School) claimed a 7-6 (7-5), 6-4 win at No. 4. Toutoungi knotted the match with a 6-1, 6-1 triumph at No. 6, finishing while Sulkin and Green were amid their tie-breaking contest.
The Purple Knights continue a stretch of four matches in five days by heading to Bentley University on Tuesday for a 3 p.m. meeting.