The Whitworth women’s tennis team’s season came to an end on Saturday as the Missionaries of Whitman College beat the Pirates 9-0 in the semifinals of the Northwest Conference Tournament at the Linfield Tennis Center in McMinnville, Ore.
“Yesterday’s match was bitter sweet because it was our last match,” senior Alli Marshall said. “We knew Whitman was going to be really tough. They won the right points and beat us, but we definitely played our hardest.”
Whitworth finished the season with a 9-4 conference record, a 13-7 overall record and 10th place ranking in the region.
“The season was a lot of fun,” head coach Jo Ann Wagstaff said. “We came a long way and improved a lot.”
After sweeping the doubles portion of the match, Whitman won the next two singles matches for the team victory, which left the four other singles matches unfinished.
Five seniors saw their Pirate tennis careers end on Saturday, including the top two singles players and the No. 1 doubles team of Marshall and Erica Bosman.
“I feel really blessed to have been on this team for four years,” Marshall said. “It’s been amazing and I wouldn’t change anything.”
Bosman finishes her career with 123 total wins, and Marshall leaves with 101 wins. The three other Pirate seniors are Claire Hemming (52 wins), Siri Carlson (31 wins) and Janell Talbot (12 wins).
“It is a huge loss (about losing the graduating seniors),” Wagstaff said. “They all contributed a whole bunch and we’ll miss them a lot. Erica went from the No. 5 player her freshman year to the No. 2 this year. Claire went from our No. 10 or 11 player her freshman year to our No. 6 player this year. As a coach it’s fun to watch players improve and succeed.”
Ranked 8th in the region, the Missionaries overcame stiff competition from the Pirates in the opening doubles matches.
The No. 1 doubles team of Marshall and Bosman were overpowered by Whitman’s No. 1 doubles team of junior Alyssa Roberg and freshman Courtney Lawless 8-2.
The No. 2 doubles match was the closest of the day. Pirate junior Jessi Steele and freshman Saryn Mooney couldn’t overcome the Missionary team of senior Emily Rolston and freshman Morgan Lawless, losing 8-6.
Junior Megan Wingfield and Hemming had the second closest match on Saturday but fell to Whitman’s No. 3 doubles team of sophomore Hannah Palkowitz and freshman Madison Webster 8-4.
“The match could have gone either way -especially in doubles - even if the score didn’t reflect that,” Talbot said.
Starting the singles matches with a 3-0 lead, Whitman left the rest of the match in the hands of the Lawless twins. Courtney Lawless defeated Bosman 6-0, 6-0 in No. 2 singles and Morgan Lawless beat Steele 6-0, 6-2 in No. 3 singles to close out the match.
“Whitman was just tough,” Wagstaff said. “We stuck with them but couldn’t come through.”
There were four matches that remained unfinished at that point. Whitworth was actually leading in three of those four matches but they stopped after Whitman earned the necessary five wins.
Mooney was beating junior Kate Kunkel-Patterson 6-3, 3-1 in No. 4 singles. Wingfield, who almost completed her match, was winning in No. 5 singles against Missionary Webster 6-2, 5-2. Hemming was ahead of Rolston 6-0, 1-3 in No. 6 singles.
The other unfinished match was in No. 1 doubles with Whitman junior Roberg leading Whitworth senior Marshall 2-6, 2-3.
“It was a really great season,” Marshall said. “It was nice to have new people. We definitely improved over the season and our scores reflect that.”
Whitman advanced to the Northwest Conference Championship game on Sunday with an 11-2 conference record and a 16-4 overall record. Whitman defeated hosting Linfield College Wildcats 5-1 to win the tournament, advancing the team to the NCAA Division III Tournament.
Whitman has a young team, which will be hard to beat in the coming years. Whitworth hopes to follow suit.
“I’m looking forward to next season,” Wagstaff said. “We have good recruits coming in and the players coming back had a great year.”
Story by Nathan Webber Staff Writer
Photography by Hope Barnes
Contact Nathan Webber at firstname.lastname@example.org.