2014 Patriot League Tournament Central

All nine Patriot League women’s tennis teams will descend upon Lewisburg on Thursday for the start of this year’s Patriot League Tournament, hosted by Bucknell on the school’s Varsity Tennis Courts. The tournament format has expanded with the addition of two new schools to the field, and competition will stretch across four days, beginning with a single first round match on Thursday, April 17 and concluding with the 2014 championship showdown on Sunday, April 20. The Bison, who have earned the fourth seed with their league mark of 3-2, will look to use the home court advantage to help them return to the championship match for the first time since 2010.

Bucknell will begin its run at the title on Friday morning with an 11 a.m. match against No. 5 Lehigh in the tournament quarterfinals. The winner of that contest will square off against the winner of No. 1 Boston University vs. No. 8 Lafayette/No. 9 Holy Cross at 11 a.m. on Saturday, with the winner of the semifinal advancing to the championship match at 12 p.m. on Sunday.

Since the Patriot League Tournament became a team competition instead of a flighted, individual tournament in 1994, the Bison have played in the championship match on six occasions, winning the title in 1994 and recording five straight runner-up finishes from 2006 to 2010. Last season Bucknell played to a 4-0 win over Holy Cross in the quarterfinals of the tournament before dropping a 4-0 decision to Navy in the semifinal round.

After a snowy winter that forced several early adjustments to their schedule, the Bison have played to a 6-7 overall record, earning Patriot League wins over Loyola (5-2), Colgate (4-0) and Lafayette (6-1). Senior Elena Vidrascu and sophomore Maria Cioffi have led the squad this season, playing to a 6-4 record at No. 1 doubles, and assuming the No. 1 and No. 2 singles spots, respectively. Vidrascu holds a 6-6 mark at the top spot, while Cioffi has won eight straight at No. 2 singles, compiling a 10-2 record and remaining undefeated in conference play. Sophomore Stephanie Pino holds a 5-5 record in dual play, with two wins at No. 4 singles and three victories at the fifth spot, while freshman Jorie Fox is 3-3 at No. 6 singles.

Lehigh earned the fifth seed in the Patriot League Tournament with a 7-9 overall record and a 2-2 mark in conference action, taking league wins over Lafayette (6-1) and Colgate (4-3). The Bison and the Mountain Hawks have met on 47 occasions since 1977, with Bucknell holding a slim, 24-23 advantage in the series. The Bison walked away with a 5-2 victory when the two schools played last season and have also never lost a Patriot League Tournament match to the Mountain Hawks, coming out on top in each of their six end-of-season meetings.

“We are just going to approach this weekend in the same way that we would with any other match,” said head women’s tennis coach Rebecca Helt, who tied the program record for all-time wins by a coach with her 181st victory on Sunday. “We have been working hard, and I am confident that we are ready to play. We know what our goals are going in to the first match on Friday, and it will simply be a matter of execution.”

Recaps of all of Bucknell’s Patriot League Tournament matches will be available on BucknellBison.com.    

2014 Patriot League Women’s Tennis Tournament Schedule
Thursday, April 17 (first round)
- No. 8 Lafayette vs. No. 9 Holy Cross (3 p.m.)
Friday, April 18 (quarterfinals)
- No. 1 Boston University vs. Lafayette/Holy Cross winner (9 a.m.)
- No. 4 Bucknell vs. No. 5 Lehigh (11 a.m.)
- No. 2 Army vs. No. 7 Colgate (2 p.m.)
- No. 3 Navy vs. No. 6 Loyola (4 p.m.)
Saturday, April 19 (semifinals)
- Boston University/Lafayette/Holy Cross winner vs. Bucknell/Lehigh winner (11 a.m.)
- Army/Colgate winner vs. Navy/Loyola winner (2 p.m.)
Sunday, April 20
- Championship Match (12 p.m.)