The women’s tennis team began conference play against the defending conference champion Whitman Missionaries on Saturday. The Pirates pulled through on two singles matches, but fell in the remaining seven doubles and singles showdowns. Despite the one-sided end result, the matches themselves proved close set to set. In No. 1 doubles, junior Taylor Peña and freshman Jennifer Adams fought a tight match with twins Courtney and Morgan Lawless to an eventual 8-5 match loss. With such a well-rounded set of opponents in the Lawless twins, Peña said she had to focus on intricacies of her opponents’ game in order to exploit what weaknesses she could.
“My strategy was to hit everything cross-court and then wait for her to hit a weaker ball [so I could] come up to the net and put it away,” Peña said. “She doesn’t miss but sometimes you can produce a weaker shot if you hit a good shot yourself.”
However, interim head coach Rachel Aldridge said the team focuses on other game aspects in practice.
“Generally when we’re trying to construct a point it’s good to be able to recognize your opponent’s weaknesses. But in general, you don’t know who’s going to be on the other side of the net on any given day so in practice we work a lot on constructing and winning a point rather than banking on your opponent’s error.”
In No. 2 and No. 3 doubles, the team of sophomores Annabelle Burns and Bella Hoyos fell in a close match, 9-7, while the team of Morgan McDivitt and Saryn Mooney lost 8-5.
Singles proved to be the bright spot for Whitworth as Saryn Mooney defeated Jenna Dobrin at No. 2 singles and Bella Hoyos defeated Morgan Lawless at the No. 3 spot.
In the end, the Pirate women were in a positive mood from the competition.
“We were happy just to get some games off of them, but we all played really well and so we were really happy we could all do our best,” McDivitt said.
The Whitman matchup is the first conference matchup for the Pirates under Aldridge. Aldridge, who took over for longtime coach Jo Wagstaff this season, was pleased with the team’s performance against the 29th-ranked Whitman squad.
“Honestly, I feel like [we] came out even better than I expected,” Aldridge said. “There’s little things to tweak to maybe have a different end result the next time we play them, but overall, I’m very pleased with how everybody played.”