Women's Tennis Says Goodbye To Three Senior Stars After Third-Place MAAC Finish

May 18, 2004

BALTIMORE, MD - In its final match of the season, Loyola's women's tennis team upset Marist by a score of 4-3 at the 2004 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Championships to take third in the league and finish with an impressive 16-6 overall record.

Despite falling short of the conference title - a title that the Greyhounds owned from 1999-2002 - Loyola was led by three outstanding seniors, all of whom had a major impact in making Loyola the MAAC's gold-standard for success in women's tennis. This senior class helped lead Loyola to two consecutive MAAC titles and NCAA Tournament berths in 2001 and 2002 and a team record of 77-19 over the past four years for an astounding winning percentage of .802.

No. 1 player Carolyn Pilkington headlines this dynamic trio from the Class of 2004. A three-time MAAC All-Academic team selection, Pilkington eclipsed the school record for most doubles wins in a career this past spring when she earned her 70th victory. Pilkington also holds the school record for most No. 2 singles wins in a career with 39, a feat she accomplished in just two years. The senior from Fanwood, NJ also holds the single-season Loyola record for most doubles wins with the same partner with 26 and the Loyola record for most wins at No. 1 doubles with 52.

Pilkington's doubles partner and No. 2 singles player Kaitlin Russo also made her mark on the Loyola record books during her tenure at Evergreen. Russo holds both the school record for most singles wins in a season with 28 and most doubles wins in a season with 28 - 26 of those doubles wins came with Pilkington as her partner. Russo ranks second on Loyola's all-time doubles wins list, just one behind Pilkington, with 69. The Orange, CT-native finished her career with a 75-37 singles record for a winning percentage of .670 - one of the best in school history - and ranks fourth on the all-time list in No. 2 singles wins (33) and third on the all-time list in No. 3 singles wins (28).

Gina Turturiello, another three-time MAAC All-Academic team selection, holds the record for the most all-time doubles wins at the No. 3 slot with 47 and set the record for most doubles wins in a season in 2003-04 with 21. Turturiello also holds the mark for third-most career singles wins at No. 3 singles with 28, while she is fourth on Loyola's career doubles wins list with 67 and ninth on the Greyhounds' career singles wins list with 62.

Junior Claire Najour also played a key role this year as she stepped into the starting lineup for the first time in her collegiate career and made an immediate impact. Najour teamed with Turturiello to set Loyola's single-season record for most wins at No. 3 doubles with 21. While she went 3-0 at No. 5 singles in MAAC Tourney play, Najour made her biggest contribution at the No. 6 slot in setting the single-season Loyola record for most wins at that position with 18. Not only did Najour finish second on the team this year with 23 singles wins, but the Los Gatos, CA-native also moved into a tie for second on Loyola's all-time list for most career wins at No. 3 doubles with 40.

Two sophomores, Amy Nitch and Jessica Liberatore, combined for 43 singles wins and are two more record-breakers among this mix of talent that long-time Head Coach Rick McClure put together. Nitch recorded 24 wins this year to lead the team with the most singles wins and now has 45 for her career. The 23 wins that Nitch picked up at No. 4 singles in 03-04 is a single-season school record. Liberatore now has 42 singles wins in her career after winning 19 this year - a year in which Liberatore recorded the second-most single-season wins in Loyola history at the No. 3 singles position with 18.

Stefanie Clay and Caitlin LaRocco saw the first significant playing time in their collegiate careers. Clay, a sophomore, walked on to the squad this year and came up big as she won a three-set No. 6 singles match at MAAC's over Siena to help the 'Hounds advance to the semifinals. LaRocco filled the No. 6 singles spot during the fall and helped lead Loyola to a 4-1 team record along with a great deal of success at the four fall tournaments.