#24 women's tennis rallies, but falls just short against #7 Bowdoin, 5-3

Carley Cooke '15 (photo by Adam Levin)

WALTHAM, Mass. – Brandeis University junior All-American Carley Cooke (San Diego, Calif./Point Loma) rallied her team from a big deficit, but a win over another regionally-ranked opponent wasn't quite enough as the 24th-ranked Judges fell to the No. 7 Bowdoin College Polar Bears, 5-3.  Brandeis is now 3-7 on the year, with all of their losses coming to teams ranked ahead of them in the Intercollegiate College Association (ITA) Top 30, or in Division I.  Bowdoin wins its fifth-straight match to improve to 9-2 on the season.

Cooke – ranked ninth in the Northeast Region – picked up Brandeis's second point of the day with a comeback win at No. 1 singles. Bowdoin's Tiffany Cheng – No. 7 in the region – went ahead with a break in the last game of first set to win, 6-4. Cooke then broke her opponent three times in the second set to win easily, 6-0.

In the third set, the two traded holds of serve in the first two games. After Cooke broke to take a 2-1 lead, Cheng answered right back to knot the set at 2-all. Cooke rallied, winning the final four games to close out her second-straight win over a foe just ahead of her in the rankings. Game five was another break by Cooke as she moved her Polar Bear opponent around the court. She consolidated to 4-2 with an ace at 40-30. Cooke picked up a second break with fine service returns to get to 5-2, and closed it out in the eighth game. She had two early match points, but Cheng battled back to get to a break point of her own. Cooke responded with three-straight points, clinching with a service winner to get the victory.

Brandeis sophomore Emily Eska (Princeton, Mass./Wachusett Regional), playing her second match of the season at No. 4 singles, had a tremendous showing to get the Judges within a point at 4-3. Eska won the first set from Bowdoin's Samantha Stalder, 6-3, but dropped the second set by the same score. In the third set, the two held serve through the first eight games before Eska broke through with a winner at 30-40 to earn the break. Serving for the match, Eska jumped out to a 40-15 lead before Stalder fought off two match points. Eska bounced back to win the next two points and get the Judges within one at 4-3.

Bowdoin then closed out the match at No. 5 singles, where Emma Lewis rallied from a set down to defeat Judge junior Simone Vandroff (Moss Beach, Calif./Half Moon Bay). Vandroff edged Lewis in the first set, 6-4, but the Polar Bear picked up early breaks of serve in each of the next two to earn a pair of 6-2 victories.

Bowdoin jumped out to a 2-1 lead after doubles action. The Polar Bears got an 8-4 win at No. 3, where Cheng and Pilar Giffenig topped Eska and junior Dylan Schlesinger (Miami, Fla. / Palmetto), 8-4. Cooke and Vandroff, ranked sixth in the Northeast, knocked off fourth-ranked Lewis and Joulia Likhanskaia, 8-5, at the top spot. The Polar Bears went ahead as Stalder and Kate Winningham topped seniors Bernstein and Marissa Lazar (Hewlett, N.Y. / Lynbrook) with a late break, 8-6, in the third spot.  

The Polar Bears extended their lead to 4-1 after the first two singles matches were completed. Likhanskaia topped Brandeis senior Roberta Bergstein (Hingham, Mass./Hingham) at No. 3, 6-1, 6-2, while Winningham won at No. 2 by fending off Allyson Bernstein (Northbrook, Ill./Glenbrook North), 6-4, 6-3.

Brandeis returns to action Wednesday at Babson College at 3 p.m. Bowdoin takes on Connecticut College on the road next Saturday at 1:30 p.m.