by Jessica Razanadrakoto
Tied for first place, the Whitworth women’s tennis team came into the matchup with Whitman on Saturday, undefeated in the conference play. The Pirates fell to the 14th-ranked Missionaries in a 9-0 sweep.
“Whitman is just a really tough team,” junior Saryn Mooney said. “They [are so] deep that even their lower players: 5, 6, 7 and 8, can jump in and be successful because they are just as good as their top players.”
What partly caused No. 1 doubles’ 8-3 loss by Mooney and sophomore Taylor Peña, were unforced errors, Mooney said. Unlike the Missionaries, the Bucs hit more balls into the net off of serves and volleys.
“They were more aggressive than we were, more consistent and stayed in the rally longer than we did,” Mooney said. “They also made their way to the net quicker than we did.”
Though the Pirate pair of freshman Bella Hoyos and junior Morgan McDivitt in No. 2 doubles lost their match 8-6, it was the closest match the Bucs had against the Missionaries.
“Every spot was a challenge,” sophomore Caylee Lamm said. “We haven’t come across a team that played like that. They are hard hitters.”
As a result of the Missionaries’ intensity and aggressiveness in the match, freshmen Hannah Wallin and Anabelle Burns lost against the No. 3 Whitman doubles team, 8-1.
“We need to work on the doubles and on some strategies, having a solid plan,” Mooney said. “We would have had more chance to win if we stayed in the rally longer.”
Assistant coach Colin Storm believes that the team did not play its best tennis. The coaches knew that No. 1 doubles was going to be a tough match, as Peña’s opponent was the No. 1 tennis player in the conference. However, they thought they would have had a chance in No. 2 through No. 6 singles.
“They played better than us, but hey, we have four freshmen who play significantly on the team, which was the first time they got to play in this kind of match,” Storm said. “Even though we are very disappointed with our result, we’re happy finishing second after a team in the top 20 in the nation.”
Even though the loss moves Whitworth down to the second spot in the conference standings, they are proud of what they have achieved so far, as they are doing better than they did last year, Mooney said.
The Pirates had the lead in No. 2, 4 and 5 singles; however, when it started raining, it took away the momentum they had, Storm said.
In addition, No. 2 singles by Mooney and No. 4 singles by Burns went into multiple tiebreaker rounds, but both resulted in losses, 10-7, 10-1.
The Bucs are looking forward to playing more aggressively, rallying longer and working on the return against a team as good as Whitman, Lamm said.
If Whitworth edges Linfield in the last conference match, the Pirates would have another face-to-face matchup with the Missionaries, Storm said.
“Hopefully we get another crack with Whitman,” Storm said. “We know their level of tennis, it’s important to get started in doubles and have to bring our best team against Whitman.”
The Bucs feel good about being second in the conference, but feel confident going into the rest of the season, Mooney said.
“Our season basically boiled down in one weekend,” Storm said. “But Whitman played very well and they deserved the win.”
With two more conference matches left, the women will visit Willamette in Salem, Ore., this week.