by Miranda Cloyd
Lewis & Clark College ended the Whitworth women’s tennis team’s season last Friday when the Pirates traveled to Walla Walla, Wash., for the Northwest Conference Tournament. The Pioneers knocked the Pirates out of the single-elimination bracket in a 5-2 defeat.
The match began under difficult circumstances. Senior Jessi Steele had a test for a nursing program that morning that could not be rescheduled, she said. The test was taken three hours away from the match, so head coach Jo Ann Wagstaff requested that LCC’s coach agree to push the match back by one hour. He refused, Steele said.
The timing was close, and Steele did not make it in time. Having never played together before, sophomore Caylee Lamm and freshman KC McConnell were placed together at No. 3 doubles, Lamm in place of Steele.
“I felt [Lamm] would do great; I wasn’t worried about that,” Steele said. “I was upset that it was likely my last college match and I wasn’t going to be there.”
In the end, the match concluded in an 8-4 defeat. Despite the defeat, the pair was pleased with the way they played, Lamm said. Lamm was able to catch her opponents off-guard with high lobs while McConnell used her diverse strategies to keep the other team running, Lamm said.
“Once KC and I figured out our game, we were pretty competitive,” Lamm said. “We are both base-liners, so we started both of us back and kept the ball deep. It worked well and threw off their game a little.”
Freshman Taylor Pena and sophomore Saryn Mooney claimed an 8-4 win over their opponents at No. 1 doubles. The two found success in patience and taking advantage of their respective strengths, Pena said.
“Saryn plays better at the baseline and I play better at the net,” Pena said. “That dynamic works really well.”
The doubles matches concluded with the Pirates up 2-1 over the Pioneers. As conference tournaments are played first to five points instead of the usual nine, the Pirates needed to win three singles in order to clinch the win.
“We felt really, really good,” Wagstaff said. “[LCC] swept us in doubles last time, so we were very excited.”
In spite of the momentum brought by doubles, LCC swept singles, winning the first four singles matches in two sets each. Because that brought LCC to five points, No.5 and No. 6 singles did not get to complete their matches.
Pena, who played at No. 3 singles, was defeated 6-2, 6-2. Pena was challenged by the very long rallies in the match, she said.
“I just knew that I had to go for a lot, otherwise she’d put it away,” Pena said. “I’m working on being more precise and hitting with more power.”
Steele, at No. 2 singles, concluded her tennis career with a loss of 6-2, 6-1. Steele’s opponent had very powerful shots that Steele could only try to be defensive against, she said.
“I tried different styles of game and she would just hit winners on me,” Steele said. “She was hitting everything on fire. There was nothing I could really do to be much better.”
For seniors Steele, Megan Wingfield and Annika Westre, this marks the end of their tennis careers at Whitworth.
“I was really blessed with this opportunity to have these past two years playing for Whitworth,” Steele said. “I will continue supporting and coming to matches in future years.”
The Pirates end their season having scored the third highest number of points in the Northwest Conference this year. Their standing of 7-5 placed them in fifth for the season.
Contact Miranda Cloyd at email@example.com