by Nathan Webber
The two seniors on the Whitworth women’s tennis team finished their careers with three Northwest Conference regular season championships, two NWC Tournament Championships, two appearances in the NCAA Tournament and an overall four-year record of 74-18.
Rachel Burns has had an award-filled tennis career at Whitworth, having been named first-team All-NWC all four years, the NWC Sportswoman of the Year in 2010 and the Northwest Conference Player of the Year in 2011. She finished the 2011 season with a 16-4 overall singles record and 11-3 record against NWC opponents.
Katie Staudinger, from Yakima, has been one of the most successful players ever for the Whitworth tennis team. She received three All-NWC honors in her four years and is the most successful player to ever leave Whitworth having compiled 152 total wins. As a senior, she finished with a 13-5 singles record and a 15-1 doubles record. As a freshman she went 21-1 playing at the No. 4 singles spot and has since helped the Pirates win three consecutive NWC regular season titles.
“Katie [Staudinger] has won more tennis matches than anyone in Whitworth history and Rachel [Burns] was the Northwest Conference MVP” said Jo Ann Wagstaff, the Pirate women’s head coach. “Their play and leadership on and off the court will be greatly missed.”
The men’s tennis seniors cut a path and led the way as the team finished the 2011 season as one of the most successful men’s tennis teams that Whitworth has seen in 20-plus years. Whitworth finished third in the conference with an 8-4 regular season record and an 11-8 record overall. In four years, these seniors have compiled a 45-49 overall record and a 36-24 conference record, but on the way led Whitworth to its first third-place finish in the NWC Tournament since 1996.
Colin Barrett has been a steadfast tennis player for the Bucs for four years. He finished his senior season with a 10-9 singles record playing at the No. 5 singles spot, also spending time switching between the No. 1 and No. 2 doubles duo that went 7-12 this season.
“Colin hit the single most important shot this tennis season versus Linfield, sparking a come-from-behind victory after being down 5-2” said Mike Shanks, the Whitworth men’s tennis coach.
Brian Lays from Denver, Colo. Although he played sparingly as a senior (2-1 in singles play and 1-2 in doubles) he pushed his teammates to be the best that they could be.
“Brian has the greatest passion for tennis than anyone I have ever known” Shanks said. “He is also probably one of the funniest characters in the history of Whitworth.”
Known as “The Outlaw – Josey Wales” by his teammates and coaches, Joe Wales has been an exceptional Pirate tennis player from the get-go. After a 13- 10 season his freshman year, Wales went on to finish 9-9 in No. 3 singles and 12-8 splitting time as No. 1 and No. 2 doubles in his senior season. Along the way, Wales, who is from Salem, Ore., earned second team All-NWC as a sophomore and the Northwest Conference Sportsman of the Year as a junior.
Mike Shanks considers Wales “one of the five best doubles players in the NWC and the biggest tennis gym rat he has ever seen”.
Henry Williams put up a 9-13 singles record his freshman year and has been a reliable Pirate ever since. In 2011, Williams, a kinesiology major from Olympia, posted a 5-5 singles conference record and a 5-4 doubles conference record.
“He poured his entire heart and soul into Whitworth tennis for all four years,” Shanks said.
“From walk-on to second-team all-conference, Colin was absolutely critical to the most successful tennis season Whitworth has seen in 20 years,” Shanks said.
Zalewski finished his senior year as the No. 2 singles and, with fellow senior Wales, No. 1 doubles tennis player, finishing with a 9-8 singles (8-3 in the NWC) and 13-7 doubles (10-5 in the NWC) record.