Women’s tennis begins conference play with split

by Miranda Cloyd

The Whitworth women’s tennis team experienced both ends of the spectrum this weekend, starting with a loss of 8-1 followed by a win of 8-1. In spite of the first conference match of the season ending in loss, the team feels confident about the future of its season. Lewis & Clark presented a strong challenge to the team and sophomore Saryn Mooney, who competed in both the doubles and singles competition, is glad to have started off against such a talented team.

“Even though it’s rough, I think it’s good we played them first,” Mooney said. “I’m not disappointed with how I played.”

Mooney, playing at No. 1 singles, competed against Audra Garrison of Lewis & Clark. Though Garrison won both sets 6-3, Mooney’s consistency and strategic play was unmatched by her opponent. Mooney awed spectators with her ability to return powerful serves with ease.

Coach Jo Ann Wagstaff was not fazed by the team’s 8-1 loss.

“Every single match was close. They had to fight hard to do as well as they did. And they did; I was proud of them,” Wagstaff said.

Senior Jessi Steele was also optimistic about the upcoming season.

“I feel really good,” Steele said. “I think we played really well as a team.”

Steele, who also competed in both singles and doubles, faced Lewis & Clark’s Olivia Cornell in the singles competition. Steele split sets and then secured victory in a 10-4 tiebreaker. Steele showed careful discretion when placing her shots.

“I could sense her sort of giving up,” Steele said. “I used that to my advantage.”

In a complete turnaround, Whitworth swept Willamette with a solid 8-1 win. Of these 8 points, 3 were won in the doubles competition.

“We played really well, especially in doubles,” Coach Wagstaff said. “It was a great match.”

All three doubles teams won by at least four points each. The No. 1 doubles team won 8-4 and No. 2 won 8-2. No. 3 doubles, played by sophomore Morgan McDivitt and senior Megan Wingfield, took the win 8-1.

“We did well. It was a good match to have second since it boosted our confidence,” Wingfield said.

Wingfield, along with four of her teammates, also won in singles. Wingfield shut out her opponent in two sets, both 6-0.

Saryn Mooney experienced a challenging singles match, lasting more than two hours. In the end, Mooney won both sets, the first by a tiebreak of 8-6 and the second 6-3.

“Doubles was encouraging, as well as singles,” Mooney said. “I feel really good about it.”

Whitworth has a packed lineup next weekend, visiting three different universities in both Oregon and Washington. The results of this weekend’s matches cause the team to move forward with confidence.

“We’ll do well,” Wingfield said. “It was good for us to see that we can hang in there with the best people in the conference.”

“We’re excited, we’re ready, and I think this weekend prepared us,” Mooney said.

Whitworth is scheduled to start out the weekend against University of Puget Sound at 4 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 22, in Tacoma, Wash.

Contact Miranda Cloyd at mcloyd16@my.whitworth.edu

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