WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. – With three straight Landmark Conference titles and three straight NCAA Tournament appearances, The University of Scranton women's tennis team has established itself as a perennial power. But facing a nationally ranked team from one of the top tennis conferences in the country proved to be too much for the Royals.
Scranton dropped its first-round match in the NCAA Tournament, 5-0, to Tufts University on Friday at Williams College. The Royals and first-year head coach Janice Winslow end their season with an 11-6 record, the most wins for the program since they went 11-5 in 2003.
Tufts (10-9) opened the match by sweeping all three doubles matches, including a rally from a 4-3 deficit for an 8-4 win at No. 1 doubles. The Jumbos then won the top two singles matches to secure the victory and advance to Saturday's second round.
The Royals led at No. 3 and No. 4 singles when the match came to an end. Junior Megan Azzalina (Easton, Pa./Notre Dame) was a point away from victory at No. 4, leading 6-2, 5-3, while sophomore Emily Walsh (Scranton, Pa./Scranton Prep) had taken the first set, 6-4, at No. 3.
Tufts entered the match ranked 16th in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association NCAA Division III Top 25. The Jumbos are one of six teams from the New England Small College Athletic Conference currently ranked in the Top 25.
The loss marks the second straight year Scranton's season came to an end against a nationally ranked opponent. Last season, after earning the program's first-ever NCAA Tournament win, the Royals fell to seventh-ranked Johns Hopkins, 5-0, in the second round.