W&M Duo Wins Atlantic Region Doubles Championship
"It is a big deal for us," Belaya said. "Jeltje and I were in the semifinals last year but came up a little short. So, we were really excited to get there again this year, but be able to follow through and win. We have been working toward this opportunity (to play in the national indoor championship). Last year, we played at NCAAs and didn't get the result we wanted. It is exciting to have another chance to compete on a national stage."
Belaya and Loomans continued their winning ways in the semifinals, pulling out a tiebreaker victory, 9-8 (3), over the No. 2-seeded and No. 41 nationally ranked Virginia pair of Stephanie Nauta and Li Xi. Another Cavalier team awaited the Tribe tandem in the championship, but Belaya and Loomans surged to an 8-2 victory over No. 7 seed Erin Vierra and Maci Espstein to up its unbeaten mark to 8-0 on the year. Dating back to last season, the Tribe duo has won 21 of their last 22 matches, including all five at the Atlantic Region Championship.
With the championship, the Tribe has claimed four ITA region doubles titles in the last 10 years and eight total crowns between singles and doubles. Belaya and Loomans are the first regional champions since Ragini Acharya won the singles title in 2008 and the first doubles winner since Megan Moulton-Levy and Katarina Zoricic in 2006.
By virtue of winning the region championship, Belaya and Loomans earn a spot in the exclusive 20-team USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate DoublesChampionship, Nov. 8-11, at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y. The prestigious event is the second of three individual national championship tournaments in college tennis and will be hosted by Columbia University. Joining the Tribe team in the national doubles championship will be the other USTA/ITA Division I Regional Champions from across the country, the winners of the USTA/ITA National Small College Super Bowl and both the consolation champion and the finalists from the Riviera/ITA Women's All-American Doubles Championship.