by Nathan Webber
The Whitworth women’s tennis team came out of the weekend 1-1 after a decisive win against Willamette University and a close loss to Linfield College on Friday and Saturday at the Scotford Tennis Center.
The Pirates, who finished out their final conference matches at home, moved to 7-3 in the Northwest Conference and 11-5 overall.
“The team played very well this weekend; I’m pleased with pretty much everything,” head Coach Jo Ann Wagstaff said. “We played much better against Linfield. We had a shot at winning the match.”
Junior Jessi Steele won three of her four matches on the weekend, two of them singles matches, improving her singles win-streak to 14 matches. She hasn’t lost a home match this season and is 15-1 in singles overall this year.
On Friday the Pirates swept the Bearcats in doubles and pulled out several close three-set matches on their way to a 7-2 win.
The No. 1 singles team of Alli Marshall and Erica Bosman made quick work of Willamette’s No. 1 doubles team, winning 8-2. Steele and freshman Saryn Mooney defeated the Bearcats No. 2 doubles team 8-4. In No. 3 doubles, senior Claire Hemming and junior Megan Wingfield finished out the sweep with an 8-1 win.
“We beat Willamette’s second doubles team fairly decisively after they beat us last time we played. It was a good win,” Wagstaff said. “We worked really hard on our volleys since spring break with our doubles team, and it’s paying off.”
Marshall also took care of business in No. 1 singles as she defeated senior Bearcat Shannon Palmer 6-2, 6-2. It was Marshall’s eighth win in singles and 18th win overall.
After taking an early 4-0 lead against the Bearcats, the Pirates lost their next two matches but won the final three to halt Willamette’s comeback and seal the victory.
Bosman lost in one of the most competitive matches of the day, falling to Willamette’s No. 2 singles player 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (7-3). Mooney also lost a close three-setter in No. 3 singles 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.
“Longer matches are physically harder, obviously, but they prepare me mentally for similar matches in the future,” Bosman said.
Steele notched her second win of the day in No. 4 singles, defeating Bearcat senior Emily Bee 6-1, 3-6, 6-1.
Wingfield won a close match in No. 5 singles, defeating Willamette sophomore Emily Funabiki 6-3, 3-6, 1-0 (10-6). Senior Siri Carlson finished off the Bearcats in No. 6 singles, wining 6-3, 6-4.
The Bucs fought just as hard on Saturday, but fell to the Linfield Wildcats, the top team in the Northwest Conference, 6-3.
The Pirates fell into a 4-0 hole early after the Wildcats took all three highly competitive doubles matches and the No. 1 singles match. All three doubles matches were within four games, the third match going into extra games as Hemming and Wingfield fell 9-7.
“We need to keep improving at the same rate in doubles,” Wagstaff said. “We have been working so hard at doubles though we need to remind ourselves about ground strokes in singles.”
The first win of the day came in No. 2 singles as Bosman defeated sophomore Caroline Brigham 6-3, 6-3, after Brigham beat her in doubles.
“I think my singles and doubles games are very different,” Bosman said. “When I’m playing doubles I can see my opponents strengths and weaknesses and I can use it against them in singles later.”
Steele followed two matches later who beat Willamette’s No. 4 singles player 6-1, 6-4.
Whitworth’s third win came in No. 6 singles as Hemming defeated freshman Kelly Watanabe 6-1, 6-2. This was Hemming’s 12th singles win of the season and 24th win of the season.
“It’s very helpful to play a team like Linfield right before the conference tournament,” Carlson said. “One through six they are very competitive, especially in doubles, it helps to play teams like that.”
The women’s tennis team will travel to Oregon this weekend to take on Lewis & Clark College and George Fox University on Friday and Saturday in the last conference matches before the Northwest Conference Tournament.
Contact Nathan Webber at firstname.lastname@example.org.