by Max Carter
The Whitworth women’s tennis team picked up their first win of 2016 at home with a 9-0 victory over the Willamette Bearcats on Sunday, improving to 1-5 on the season. The Bearcats have not fared well this year either, falling to 0-3 following Sunday’s loss at Whitworth.
Despite Whitworth’s early struggles, the Pirates have continued to move forward and hold their heads high. Following the graduation of seniors Caylee Lamm, Morgan McDivitt and Saryn Mooney, the team has become much younger. The Pirates have turned to juniors like co-captain Bella Hoyos for crucial leadership and experience from an 0-2 start last season.
“With such a small team, a lot of my focus as one of the team captains has been on building each other up and playing well, even if that doesn’t mean winning every match,” Hoyos said. “We have definitely focused more this season on team building and working together, as opposed to simply winning.”
The Pirates certainly seemed focused on Sunday, winning their first five matches handily over Willamette to quickly secure the victory. With the overall match already decided, Hoyos was putting the finishing touches on a singles match.
“This season is the best tennis that I’ve ever played, but at the same time, I haven’t won a singles match yet,” Hoyos said. “I feel like I am playing very well, but our conference is so tough this year that I haven’t been getting the score results that I would like.”
Hoyos finally got the results she was looking for, winning her match against sophomore Mikaila Smith, two sets to none. It was a heated contest, with the women relentlessly exchanging forehands and lobs, point after point.
Yet through it all, the look on Hoyos’ face didn’t change once, exhibiting the same confidence and tenacity that she has preached to her teammates in the early stages of this 2016 season. With a convincing win under their belt and their number one with a singles victory finally in her pocket, the 1-5 Lady Pirates have a long road ahead.
The Pirates will get a bit of a break in the coming weeks, hosting Whitman on Saturday, March 5 before a week-long break. Following the home match against the Fighting Missionaries, the women will be heading to McMinnville on Saturday, March 12 to take on the 6-3 Linfield Wildcats.