Sophomore Amanda Vinges stared down match-point twice in the third set and came out with a victory in a tiebreaker to cap an incredible comeback and lift Gettysburg College past Franklin & Marshall College 5-4 in the opening round of the Centennial Conference Championship at the Brooks Tennis Center Tuesday evening.
Gettysburg (12-7) secured its first-ever postseason victory and it took an improbable rally against a team it had lost eight consecutive decisions to heading into Tuesday’s meeting. Franklin & Marshall (9-7), which had defeated the Bullets 6-3 just 13 days ago, surged out to a 2-0 lead with 8-5 victories at first and third doubles.
The Diplomats were on the verge of a doubles sweep with Emma Wu and Lauren Wang leading seniors Maddie Class and Maria Martinovic 5-2 at No. 1. Playing their 23rd match as a tandem in their careers, the two Gettysburg seniors maintained their poise and wore down their foes, taking six of the next seven games to pull out an 8-6 victory.
The hosts added to the advantage at the start of singles play, winning two of the first three matches completed. Junior Ava Vanhelfteren kept the Bullets from elimination with a straight-set victory (6-3, 6-3) at No. 5.
Leading 4-2, Franklin & Marshall needed one final point to secure the win and earn its first trip to the CC semifinals. But with a rainbow filling the sky over the tennis courts, Gettysburg found its pot of gold as Class initiated the comeback with a 6-3, 7-5 win over Lauren Wang at the fourth flight.
The decision came down to junior Samantha Boardman and Vinges and both Bullets had something to prove against foes who swept them both less than two weeks ago. Boardman broke out for a 6-2 win in the opening set against Wu at No. 4, but the Diplomat senior won by the same count in the second set. Boardman came right back to grind out a 7-5 decision in the third set to tie the match 4-4.
Gavriel Rubenstein defeated Vinges 6-3, 6-2 at third singles in their last meeting, but the Gettysburg sophomore established a different tone with a 7-6 (7-2) decision in the opening set Tuesday. Rubenstein raced to a 6-1 win in the second frame to set the stage for an epic third-set showdown.
Twice Vinges faced match-point at 5-4 and 6-5, and twice she broke Rubenstein’s serve to force another tiebreaker. After surrendering the opening point, Vinges ran off the next five points to assume control and closed with a 7-6 (7-2) win.
Gettysburg became just the second No. 5 seed to win a match in the CC Championship and it was just the second 5-4 decision in playoff history. Johns Hopkins University defeated Swarthmore College 5-4 in the 2007 finals. With 12 wins on the year, the Bullets have logged their best win total in 21 years.
Waiting in the semifinals is 12-time conference champion and 14th-ranked Johns Hopkins (14-2). The Blue Jays will host the Bullets Saturday at 11 a.m.