#21 women's tennis challenges #9 CMU before falling, 5-4

Lauren Bertsch '21 (left) and Olivia Leavitt '19 (photo by Tim Farrell, UAA)
Lauren Bertsch '21 (left) and Olivia Leavitt '19 (photo by Tim Farrell, UAA)

ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. – The Brandeis University women's tennis team nearly pulled off a huge surprise in the opening round of the 2018 University Athletic Association tournament today as the seventh-seeded Judges pushed second-seeded Carnegie Mellon to the final match before falling, 5-4. The 21st-ranked Judges fall to 10-7 on the season, while the 9th-ranked Tartans improve to 18-3.

CMU took a 2-1 lead after doubles, but the Judges were close to turning the tables. After the Tartans' Cori Sidell and Courtney Ollis won the first match of the day, 8-1, at No. 1, the final two matches came down to a pair of late service breaks. Brandeis took the No. 2 match, with rookie Lauren Bertsch (Middletown, R.I./LaSalle Academy) and junior Olivia Leavitt (Falmouth, Maine/Falmouth) winning 9-7. At No. 3, Katie Lai and Jamie Vizelman edged Brandeis senior Haley Cohen (Cherry Hill, N.J./Laurel Springs Prep) and rookie Rachel Zubrinsky (Waxhaw, N.C./Marvin Ridge) by the same score to give Carnegie Mellon the edge.

In singles play, Brandeis's Bertsch improved to 2-0 on the day with a convincing 6-4, 6-0, win at No. 5 to even the match at 2-2. Carnegie Mellon responded with wins at the top of the lineup, as Sidell defeated Sabrina Ross Neergaard (Port Orchard, Wash./Laurel Springs Prep), 6-3, 6-1, at No. 1, and Vinaya Rao topped junior Keren Khromchenko (Manalapan, N.J./Academy of Allied Health and Science) 6-4, 6-4, at No. 2 to put the Tartans on the brink of victory.

The final three matches each went three sets. The Judges won the first two of those to even the match at 4-4. Junior Michele Lehat (Great Neck, N.Y./John L. Miller Great Neck North) had a nice bounce-back third set to defeat Hannah Rosenfield, 6-3, 1-6, 6-1, at No. 6. At No. 4, Cohen rallied from a set down to defeat Katie Lai, 4-6, 7-5, 6-2.

With the match tied, it came down to No 3 singles between Leavitt and Vizelman. The Judge won the first set in a tiebreaker, 7-6 (8-6), but Vizelman rallied to defeat her in the final two sets, 6-2, 6-2, to avert the upset.

Brandeis moves on to take on NYU in the consolation semifinals tomorrow at 2 p.m. The Judges will look to avenge a 5-4 loss to the Violets from earlier in the season.