HARRISONBURG, Va., April 18, 2011 - The James Madison women's tennis team closed out its regular season on Monday afternoon with a 5-2 loss to Richmond on Senior Day at Hillside Courts.
The Spiders, winners of the Atlantic-10 Championship, improved to 14-5 this season, while the Dukes dropped to 11-8 entering this week's Colonial Athletic Association Championship, which takes place April 21-24 at Old Dominion.
Prior to the match, JMU honored its three seniors, Ida Donner (Durham, N.C/Jordan), Kristin Nimitz (Richmond, Va./Deep Run) and student assistant coach Alyssa Brandalik (Cincinnati, Ohio/Midland).
"The seniors who are leaving this year are our first group of scholarship players, so this was our starting point," Head Coach Maria Malerba said. "They were our mainstays at the beginning, and it's those kids who really set the tone for our program."
Monday also marked the final home match for third-year Assistant Coach Courtney Klein, who will be leaving the Dukes following the season to pursue her career as a dietitian in Boston.
"Courtney has really been invaluable," Malerba said. "[The team] really looks up to her as a role model and a mentor. She has helped turn the program around into what it is, between the recruiting and all the other things we have needed to do. If she gets a position as a head coach, she'll be a great head coach. I hate to see her leave, because she has done so much, not just for the program but for me."
Sophomore Michelle Nguyen (Springfield, Va./South County) and freshman Jacqueline Palmucci (Aurora, Colo./Cherokee Trail) both notched singles victories for the Dukes.
UR took the early 1-0 lead after rallying at the top two doubles spots to claim all three doubles matches. Isabel Arana and Elizabeth Sims gave the Spiders the advantage with an 8-3 win at No. 3 doubles against sophomore Megan Douglass (Wilton, Conn./St. Luke's) and Palmucci.
Richmond sealed the doubles point after Joanna Matuszczyk and Sydney Grant rallied to win 9-7 at No. 2 versus freshman Ruxandra Andriescu (Brampton, Ontario/Turner Fenton) and sophomore Katherine Bulling (Loveland, Ohio/Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy).
Helen Cunningham and Alexandra Smyth stormed back from down 7-4 at No. 1 doubles to complete the sweep for UR with a 9-7 decision over junior Kinsey Pate (Matthews, N.C./Butler) and Nguyen.
In singles, Richmond won four of six matches to secure the team win. Palmucci knotted the match at 1-1 when she cruised to a 6-1, 6-1 victory at No. 3 singles against Grant. The Spiders regained the lead at 2-1 with a 6-1, 6-4 win by Cunningham over Pate at No. 1.
The lead stretched to 3-1 when Kelly Tidwell took a 6-2, 6-4 decision from Douglass at No. 4, and UR secured the team win moments later when Sims defeated Nimitz 7-5, 6-1 at No. 6.
Smyth came back to beat Bulling at No. 5 by a score of 4-6, 6-0, 6-3, while Nguyen closed out the match with a thrilling 7-6 (7-1), 5-7, 10-8 win at No. 2 against Matuszczyk.
JMU returns to action Thursday when it faces Hofstra in the first round of the 2011 CAA Championship. The seventh-seeded Dukes take on the 10th-seeded Pride at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday at ODU's Folkes-Stevens Tennis Center in Norfolk, Va.
Richmond 5, James Madison 2
Doubles (Order: 3,2,1)
1. Cunnigham/Smyth (UR) def. Pate/Nguyen (JMU) 9-7
2. Matuszczyk/Grant (UR) def. Andriescu/Bulling (JMU) 9-7
3. I. Arana/Sims (UR) def. Douglass/Palmucci (JMU) 8-3
Singles (Order: 3,1,4,6,5,2)
1. Helen Cunningham (UR) def. Kinsey Pate (JMU) 6-1, 6-4
2. Michelle Nguyen (JMU) def. Joanna Matuszczyk (UR) 7-6(1), 5-7, 10-8
3. Jacqueline Palmucci (JMU) def. Sydney Grant (UR) 6-1, 6-1
4. Kelly Tidwell (UR) def. Megan Douglass (JMU) 6-2, 6-4
5. Alexandra Smyth (UR) def. Katherine Bulling (JMU) 4-6, 6-0, 6-3
6. Elizabeth Sims (UR) def. Kristin Nimitz (JMU) 7-5, 6-1