Fourth-seeded Saint Michael's falls in NE-10 first round to No. 5 Southern New Hampshire

SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. - The fourth-seeded Saint Michael's College women's tennis team's season came to an end on Wednesday with a 5-0 loss to fifth-seeded Southern New Hampshire University during the first round of the Northeast-10 Conference Championship off campus and indoors at The EDGE. The Purple Knights, who had recently claimed the 10th spot in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association's (ITA) East Region poll, fell to 11-8, while the Penmen are 13-7 and will face top-seeded Merrimack College during a semifinal on Friday.

Saint Michael's, which had been the only team to qualify for the semifinal round every year since the NE-10 switched to a team tournament format in 1999-2000, hosted a postseason match for the eighth consecutive season. Southern New Hampshire, which qualified for the past five NCAA Tournaments, has advanced to the last four NE-10 Championship finals, winning each year from 2010 to 2012. The Penmen are now 3-1 against the Purple Knights in postseason play.

In the third doubles position, Purple Knight junior Kayla Dowd (Longmeadow, Mass./Longmeadow) and sophomore Alexandra Sulkin (Ipswich, Mass./Ipswich) led 3-2 before sophomores Yolanda Green (Springfield, Mass./Longmeadow) and Allison Valentine (New Hartford, Conn./Saint Paul Catholic) rallied for an 8-5 victory to give the Penmen a 1-0 lead.

At No. 1, graduate student Sarah Schöllgen (Meerbusch, Germany/Georg Büchner Gymnasium) and junior Diana Vamvakitis (Wading River, N.Y./Westhampton Beach), one of two doubles teams ranked fifth in the region, knocked off junior captains Caroline Martin (Scituate, Mass./Scituate) and Caroline Toutoungi (Weston, Conn./Weston), 8-3. In the second position, Southern New Hampshire completed the sweep when senior Kirsten Jean (Bedford, N.H./Bedford) and junior Jamie Hann (Westhampton, N.Y./Westhampton Beach) led 3-2 before pulling away from sophomore Erica Bundrick (Mattituck, N.Y./Mattituck) and first-year Nicole Kellogg (Burnt Hills, N.Y./Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake), 8-5.

Vamvakitis, the seventh-ranked singles player in the region, picked up a 6-0, 6-1 triumph over Bundrick at No. 1 to extend her team's lead to 4-0. Kellogg and Martin both closed in on forcing a third set during their matches, as Kellogg and Schöllgen traded 6-2 decisions at No. 2, and Martin was within 6-0, 6-5 against Hann in the third spot, but Jean closed out the match by capturing a 6-4, 6-2 contest with junior Hannah Benoit (Mystic, Conn./Saint Bernard School).