QUEENS, N.Y. – Monday was championship day in at the National Tennis Center as the USTA Collegiate Invitational came to a close on the third day of competition.
The Seton Hall tennis team gave a good account of itself over the weekend, showing marked improvement over past results from the regional tournament. While the entire collective effort pointed towards progress within the program, the highlight of the team’s play came from the doubles tandem of Julia Keenan (Greenland, N.H.) and Madison Shoemaker (Halfmoon Bay, British Columbia).
Over the first two days of matches Keenan and Shoemaker fought their way to three wins, becoming the first SHU twosome to advance to a final in the event. After defeating Hsu/Uberoi (Brown) in a heated 9-7 first round affair, the pair of underclassmen cruised into the final with two convincing victories. The duo downed Sarah Ali and Bella Genkina of Fordham 8-4, followed by an 8-2 win over the Providence team of Taylor Corder and Alana Prinos, advancing to Monday’s matches and earning a bid at the flight championship.
With the title up for grabs, Keenan and Shoemaker squared off with Nicole Chris and Manuela Leme, members of a defending NEC Champion Fairleigh Dickinson squad. SHU quickly grabbed the upper hand as Keenan/Shoemaker jumped out to a 3-1 lead. The early advantage evaporated however, as the duo eventually found themselves down 4-6 in the pro-set style scoring match.
The Pirates rallied to take the next two games though, and were on serve with the match level at 6-6. Chris and Leme responded by mounting a rally of their own, stringing together wins in the final two games to take the match, 8-6.
The result brought to an end what was a grueling three-day stretch for Keenan and Shoemaker that included seven total matches (singles and doubles) for each in a 72-hour span.
Despite the loss, head coach Greg Wyzykowski was encouraged by what his team accomplished against some of the best teams in the region.
“We competed extremely hard this weekend,” said Wyzykowski. “I think we opened some eyes and people took notice of the strides we have been making. Now we have to turn our attention to what is ahead of us. We have an opportunity go head-to-head with a very good Fairleigh Dickinson team, followed by the ITA Regional Tournament to close the fall. It is important for us to remain focused because a win over FDU and another good showing at the ITAs would give us a nice push heading into winter training and the spring season.”
The Pirates will take to the court next on Tuesday, Oct. 16 when they welcome Fairleigh Dickinson to South Orange for their only dual match of the fall. Matches are scheduled to begin at 2:00 p.m. at the Baird Courts.