COLCHESTER, Vt. - The Saint Michael's College women's tennis team suffered a narrow 5-4 setback to regionally-ranked Merrimack College, the defending Northeast-10 Conference Championship champion, on Tuesday at the SMC Tennis Courts. The Purple Knights slipped to 2-1 overall and in league, while the Warriors are 4-1 and 4-1. Merrimack, which is ranked sixth in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) East Region poll, qualified for last season's NCAA Tournament and has now won 18 of its last 19 matches with conference opponents.
Saint Michael's trailed 2-1 heading into singles after losing twice in doubles, including against the eighth-ranked tandem in the region. The Purple Knights earned their doubles point when sophomore Nicole Kellogg (Burnt Hills, N.Y./Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake) and first-year Amelia Weeks (Clinton, Wash./South Whidbey) teamed for an 8-1 triumph in Weeks' college debut.
Merrimack extended its lead to 3-1 before senior Caroline Martin (Scituate, Mass./Scituate) finished off a 7-5, 6-3 win at No. 4 singles to draw the hosts within one. Kellogg lost a close 6-4 decision in a straight-set loss in the second position that brought the Warriors to a 4-2 lead, and senior Hannah Benoit (Mystic, Conn./Saint Bernard School) fought off a handful of match points before ultimately falling 4-6, 6-0, 7-5 at No. 3 for Merrimack's clinching fifth point.
Saint Michael's closed out the match with two final victories, as junior Alexandra Sulkin (Ipswich, Mass./Ipswich) claimed a 6-3, 6-3 win at No. 5 before senior Caroline Toutoungi (Weston, Conn./Weston) took a 6-1, 6-2 decision in the sixth spot.
The Purple Knights hit the road for a pair of matches this weekend, beginning on Saturday with a 1 p.m. meeting with Bentley University.