LANCASTER, Pa. - The Haverford College women's tennis team advanced to the Centennial Conference championship match for the first time in program history with a 5-3 victory over host Franklin & Marshall College on Saturday afternoon in semifinal action.
The historic win over the second-seeded Diplomats (13-6) moves the third-seeded Fords (12-4) into Sunday's 11 a.m. title contest against top seed Johns Hopkins University. The host Blue Jays are currently ranked fourth nationally by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA).
Looking to avenge a close loss to Franklin & Marshall during the regular season, Haverford got off to a great start in the match with two victories during doubles play. Senior Kate Donches and sophomore Robyn Himelstein earned their 10th win in their last 11 outings with an 8-3 win at No. 2. The top pairing of junior Caitlin Gallagher and senior Alex Ferrara then assured the Fords an overall lead in the match going into singles with an 8-5 victory over the Diplomat's regionally-ranked duo of Caitlin Rummelsburg and Anya Sahaydachny.
Owning a 2-1 advantage at the onset of singles action, Haverford continued to battle. After persevering through a short rain delay, Himelstein added another point for the visitors with a straight-set win at No. 3 (7-6 (7-1), 6-4). Ferrara then rallied past Sahaydachny at No. 2 (4-6, 6-2, 6-4) to move the Fords within one point of the overall match victory. The comeback win by Ferrara extended her singles winning streak to 12 while also moving her into sole possession of fifth place on the program's all-time career wins list (58).
Haverford led 4-3 when another brief rain shower interrupted play and when action resumed freshman Jessica Liu, at No. 6, outlasted Allysan Breece (6-0, 6-7 (3-7), 6-2) to finish off F&M and send the Fords to the final.
Haverford, currently ranked 14th in the ITA Atlantic South Region, will need to be at their best on Sunday as Johns Hopkins has claimed the last seven conference titles.