Jenny Adams: The lone freshman

Being the only freshman on a collegiate sports team is never an easy task, and Jennifer (Jenny) Adams had her share of troubles, but with the help of her coach and teammates, she was ultimately able to have a successful season on and off the tennis court. “Jenny was a great addition to the team this year. She had a great first season and I expect she will only get better and better each season,” Coach Rachel Aldridge said. “It can be tough as a freshman not knowing anyone, but Jenny has really become part of the team and our little tennis family.”

The Whitworth women’s tennis team had an unexpected start to the season, as Jo Wagstaff, the person who recruited Adams, decided to retire after being the head coach of the program for 30 years. This came as a shock to the players, who were not expecting Wagstaff to retire in December before the spring season.

Aldridge, a former Whitworth tennis player and assistant coach, was soon named the new head coach of the program. This coaching change left a lot of doubt in the mind of Adams, who had not even started her first season before the coach who had confidence in her decided to retire.

“I was definitely frustrated because the offseason was really poor in communication and teamwork,” Adams said. “Having both our main coach and one of our assistant coaches retire made me feel uncertain of why I even came here originally. However, our assistant coach Rachel took over and it turned out to be a great season with great coaching.”

In the end, Jenny enjoyed having Rachel as a coach and had a phenomenal freshman season- starting almost every match she was healthy in at singles and doubles. Adams would typically start at the No. 4 spot in singles, and usually play in the No. 1 doubles match partnered with junior Taylor Peña.

Adams is currently a nursing major, who chose Whitworth not only for it’s good tennis program, but also for the strong academics. She is originally from Renton, Washington, and is happy her parents are not too far away when she needs some support dealing with tennis issues or her busy academic and social life off the court.

“Several people helped me adjust to Whitworth. My parents were great when I felt nervous about my tennis game or school, and everyone on the team was supportive of me,” Adams said. “Coach Rachel sat me down several times to refocus, and it has been helpful.”

Jenny’s success on and off the court as a freshman not only came with the help of her parents and coach, but also came from her “amazing” teammates. Jenny went through some difficulties during the season, from adjusting to the new coach, dealing with “nerves” during matches and even suffering an injury near the end of the season.

In addition, according to Adams, her teammates really stepped up and made this season a good experience for her- which showed in her achievement on the court and in the classroom. Peña, Adams’ doubles partner, was someone Adams found influential.

“I loved playing doubles with Jenny because we moved well on the court together and our game styles (my consistency and her volleys) complemented each other really well,” Peña said. “Jenny has such a welcoming and hardworking spirit. I was able to help her with encouraging her as my teammate and calling out strategies, like where/how we should serve or return.”

Senior Saryn Mooney was also a player Adams said really welcomed her as a freshman and had a positive influence on her first year. Mooney only got to play alongside Adams for one year, but she has a few memories about her that she says will be hard to forget.

“Each girl is assigned an animal their freshman year over spring break and has to wear a special shirt during the warm ups for a match,” Mooney said. “The shirt is quite embarrassing, but Jenny was a champ about it. It was rough for her to do by herself, but she was willing to laugh.”

Adams’ season was cut short with a couple weeks to go due to an injury to her rib area. Even though Adams was not able to help her team win the Northwest Conference Tournament, she is optimistic about her next three years as a Buc.

“After spring break I injured my serratus anterior and intercostal muscles on my side. Mentally, I feel a lot better, but ending my year with injury was not what I would have wanted. However, I am excited for next year and ready to start fresh again.”

  Kyle Cacoyannis

Staff Writer

Women's tennis ends regular season with a bang, preps for Whitman

The women’s tennis team won both of their matches last weekend for their final two regular season conference games against the University of Puget Sound and Pacific Lutheran University. Whitworth blew out Puget Sound 9-0 Saturday, clinching a No. 4 Northwest Conference playoff spot in the process.

“I feel good about my game personally, and feel confident in the team as well going into next week’s conference playoffs,” senior Saryn Mooney said. “These are two solid games this weekend and are important preparation for us next week.”

Mooney won her doubles match partnered with sophomore Bella Hoyos, 8-2, and won her singles match in two quick sets starting at the number three spot. Due to injury, Puget Sound only had 5 active starters, so there were only two doubles matches and five singles matches, but the Bucs won them all in convincing fashion.

Whitworth started of the day with two dominant doubles wins, and then finished it off by not dropping a set in all five of their singles matches. Junior Taylor Peña and sophomore Anabelle Burns did not drop a game in their respective singles matches, while Hoyos started at the No. 1 spot and had a convincing win.

On Sunday, the Bucs won their final regular season match of the season, 5-4, against PLU in Parkland, Washington.

“It was rewarding to play with Morgan, another senior, in doubles today,” senior Caylee Lamm said. “I think we were consistent and played our game, as we had to be the aggressor for the most part of it, but once we figured that out, it worked pretty well.”

Whitworth started off the day winning two out of their three doubles matches, and then tied their singles matches, 3-3. Lamm won her doubles match partnered with fellow senior, Morgan McDivitt, 8-4, while Mooney and Hoyos had a dominant 8-1 win in their doubles match. In singles, Mooney and Burns both won their respective matches fairly easily in straight sets, while McDivitt had a thrilling 8-6 win in the third set.

The Bucs will enter the NWC Tournament on Friday against undefeated and regular-season conference champions: Whitman. Whitworth is in a must-win situation in order to continue their season with hopes of making the NCAA Tournament.

“If we are going to beat Whitman we are going to have to come out with more intensity and energy than we did today, and just have confidence with our game,” McDivitt said. “In doubles, the key was keeping the ball cross-court, and then Caylee did a good job with poaching at the net and attacking the right short ball. In singles I played well also so hopefully I can take this confidence into the next match at Whitman.”

Lamm is also not ready for her tennis career at Whitworth to be over, and says that for Whitworth to beat Whitman in the rivalry, “having a positive attitude and playing to our strengths will be key.”

  Kyle Cacoyannis

Staff Writer

Women's tennis restarts streak at Scotford Center

The women’s tennis team got their winning streak back on track playing at home last weekend, defeating the University of Puget Sound on Saturday and Pacific Lutheran University on Sunday. Whitworth started the weekend off on Saturday with an 8-1 win against UPS at the Scotford Tennis Center. UPS only had five players competing due to injury, and thus had to forfeit one of their doubles and one of their singles matches.

“We played better singles today than we have in a long time, and that wasn’t even the ceiling of our singles play,” Coach Rachel Aldridge said. “We worked a lot on aggressive singles play in practice.”

The Bucs started off the day by splitting their two doubles matches and then ended strong by sweeping their singles matches 5-0. Senior Saryn Mooney started at the No. 2 spot and won her singles match in straight sets and also won her doubles match with Caylee Lamm 8-4.

“I think we did not know what to expect going into the singles matches, beside the fact that  the other team didn’t have a winning record,” Mooney said. “We knew it was important for us to stay mentally tough.”

Whitworth not only won all of its singles matches in straight sets but had some convincing performances with sophomore Bella Hoyos and senior Morgan McDivitt both winning their singles matches in dominant fashion. Junior Taylor Peña also won her singles match 6-1 in the first set and 6-2 in the second set.

The match was Peña’s first singles win of the season, as she has had some challenging competition starting at the number one spot all year.

“The nice part is just playing my game and feeling good while I’m playing. Being happy with how I played is a good feeling,” Peña said. “Keeping the ball deep, staying consistent, and using my legs to brace against [my opponent’s] ball were keys to my success.”

On Sunday, the Bucs had another dominant performance against PLU, coming out as 7-2 victors.

“It felt pretty good to come back out after not playing very well in doubles yesterday,” McDivitt said. “Today we came out with more energy and confidence.”

McDivitt won her doubles match with Hoyos 8-2,and had a blowout singles match, winning 6-2 in both sets. Whitworth won five of six singles matches and two out of the three doubles matches against PLU.

Every Pirate player who won her respective singles match did so in straight sets, and both of the doubles wins were controlled by the Bucs.

“I’m pretty confident just because as a team we have been working hard to improve,” Hoyos said. “Being able to play tough competitors on my team in practice helps with my confidence in matches.”

Hoyos kept her singles win streak alive Sunday, winning again in straight sets. Hoyos is the only Buc to remain undefeated in singles in Northwest Conference play and appears determined to keep rolling over opponents.

Peña and freshman Jennifer Adams also won their doubles match together 8-3, and won both of their respective singles matches in straight sets. Aldridge said she was pleased overall with her team’s work over the weekend.

“The players are fun, and I like that this is a collective team. Tennis is such an individual sport, but this is very much a team,” Aldridge said.

 

Kyle Cacoyannis

Staff Writer

Tennis splits road contests

The women’s tennis team split their two matches on their trip down to Salem, Oregon and Walla Walla, Washington last weekend, blowing out Willamette on Saturday, but losing on Sunday to Whitman. Whitworth added more to its recent success with an 8-1 win over Willamette in Salem, Oregon.

“I definitely see the team getting better with every week. We have been working hard in practice and are bringing what we learn to matches,” sophomore Bella Hoyos said. “In doubles Anabelle [Burns] and I were super consistent and forced a lot of errors.”

Hoyos won her doubles match with sophomore Anabelle Burns 8-1, and also won her singles match in straight sets starting at the No. 2 spot. Senior Saryn Mooney and senior Morgan McDivitt also won their doubles match and both of their respective singles matches.

Whitworth capped off a sweep in doubles with a 5-1 win in singles. Every match the teams won ended in straight sets.

Freshman Jennifer Adams won her doubles match with Taylor Pena 8-5, and also won her singles match in straight sets starting at the No. 3 spot.

“As a freshman, it’s pretty nice to be doing well, but I’m starting to get in my groove a little bit,” Adams said. “In doubles we were able to hold serves and stay focused, and in my singles match I was able to play consistently.”

Sunday’s match against Whitman in Walla Walla was also not very close, except this time Whitworth was on the other side of the score, losing 7-2.

“The major difference between Saturday and Sunday was the caliber of the team on the other side of the net,” head coach Rachel Aldridge said. “When we play our best tennis we are closely matched with Whitman, but we did not play our best tennis today.”

Whitworth lost all three of their doubles matches, but Bella Hoyos and Morgan McDivitt came up with wins in their respective singles matches. Hoyos continued her winning form, doing so in straight sets, while McDivitt had a grind-out win in three sets after losing the first one.

“I tried to think of the score as zero to zero after losing the first set, and focus on playing patient and just playing my game,” McDivitt said. “The players we played against today were definitely harder and more consistent than yesterday.”

Whitman finished first in the Northwest Conference last year, and currently remain tied in first place with Linfield. With the loss on Sunday, Whitworth remains in fourth place in the conference, where they have a 3-2 record.

 

Kyle Cacoyannis

Staff Writer

NWC home loss for tennis: Pirate women win two of nine matches at home

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.”

 

Connor Soudani

Sports Editor