CASTLETON, Vt.- The Castleton State College women's tennis team will travel to Amherst College Friday to take on The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) in the first round of the the NCAA Division III National Tournament at a time yet to be determined.
Amherst is the host site of one of eight regionals in the 49-team tournament.
The Spartans are making their third-straight appearance, and third overall, in the tournament thanks to a 6-3 win over Penn State-Berks in the North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) Championship last Saturday.
Senior Michelle Podnecky (Bridgewater, Vt.), the 2011 NEAC East Division Player of the Year and team MVP leads Castleton. Podnecky posted a 16-2 mark in number-one singles, and was 15-2 in number-one doubles with teammate Kate Bucci (Wakefield, R.I.). Bucci, the NEAC East Tournament MVP and All-Conference First Team selection finished the season 13-5 at second singles.
TCNJ earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament back in September as they rolled their way to another NJAC title, marking the first time the conference had an automatic bid.
TCNJ (15-2) have won every conference crown since the NJAC began sponsoring the sport in 1982 and have won all 142 matches against conference opponents.
The Lionas are led by two-time NJAC Player of the Year Karisse Bendijo who swept through conference play winning all six singles matches and added a 5-0 record in doubles. Overall during the fall season, she went 11-2 in singles and 15-1 in doubles and was named All-NJAC First Team in singles as well as doubles teaming up with classmate Allison Tierney. That pairing has been named all-conference for each of the last three years. Tierney added All-NJAC First Team honors for the second straight year as she also went 6-0 in singles and doubles. Tierney finished the fall with an 11-1 record in singles and 16-1 in doubles.
The winner of the Castleton/TCNJ match will advance to face either Skidmore College or Simmons College, on Saturday with the regional final then set for Sunday.