Twelfth Consecutive NCAA Tournament Berth Well Within Reach for Tufts Women's Tennis Team

Sophomore Shelci Bowman played at the NCAA Doubles Championship last year

MEDFORD - It goes without saying that the Tufts University women's tennis team won't settle for anything less than an NCAA Tournament berth this spring. The Jumbo program has made 11 consecutive NCAA appearances, so the standard has been set.

Last year, however, the team went beyond just gaining an NCAA berth. The Jumbos advanced to the national quarterfinals for the first time in the program's history and ended the year ranked #5 nationally. With five players returning from the Tufts starting line-up at the NCAA Quarterfinals, the Jumbos once again look to be one of the top teams in the country. They were ranked seventh in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) March 15 rankings.

All-New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) players Lindsay Katz (Baltimore, MD), a junior captain, and sophomore Shelci Bowman (Dallas, TX) should be at the top of the singles line-up to start. Katz was ranked 42nd nationally by the ITA in the fall, while Bowman gained NCAA Championship doubles experience last spring playing with graduated stand-out Julia Browne.

Sophomore Eliza Flynn (Hamilton, MA) and first-year Sophie Schonfeld (Washington, DC) missed the fall season with injuries, but have been back practicing in the preseason and should both be ready for the doubles line-up right away. Once they're completely healthy, both should see action in the singles line-up too.

Senior Nathalie Schils (Shaker Heights, OH), junior Janice Lam (San Francisco, CA) and sophomores Samantha Gann (Massapequa, NY) and Becca Kimmel (Longmeadow, MA) are all healthy and competing for spots. Gann played sixth singles in the NCAA Quarterfinals last season, while Lam was at #5 and Kimmel was at #6 in two fall dual matches.

Head coach Kate Bayard's team will look to capitalize on their doubles strength. The confidence created by taking a lead in doubles play eases the pressure in singles, when only half of the matches would need to be won.

After the fall season, Katz and Bowman are the #2 ranked doubles tandem in the ITA Northeast. However, Coach Bayard could split them up for stronger depth in doubles. Katz played with Flynn all last spring and posted a 14-3 record. Gann and Lam also enjoyed a lot of success playing together in the spring 2011. Bowman won over 20 matches playing with Browne last year. Schonfeld is a strong doubles player who also figures into the mix.

Tufts will be put to the test right away. During their spring break trip, the Jumbos will face 10th ranked Johns Hopkins on March 20 and #3 Washington and Lee on March 22. The spring season opens on Monday (Mar. 19) at Washington College. Once Tufts returns to New England, their NESCAC schedule includes #1 in the nation Williams, #2 Amherst, #9 Middlebury and #15 Bowdoin.

After facing that tough schedule, the 2012 Jumbos look to be where the program has been for over a decade once May comes around - in NCAA Championship play.