Still in the running for an NWC tournament berth, the women’s tennis team defeated conference opponents, the Pacific University Boxers, 7-2 last Saturday but fell to non-conference Lewis-Clark St. 5-4 on Sunday. The Pirates improved to 4-6 in the NWC and are now 5-11 overall. The Bucs swept doubles to begin the match, giving them a 3-0 lead over the Boxers. Junior Anabelle Burns and freshman Emma Jo Wiley won by a decisive 8-1 margin at No. 2 doubles. But both the No. 1 and No. 3 doubles matches came down to the wire. On court 1, junior Bella Hoyos and sophomore Jenny Adams won their match 8-6 while court 3 featured a 9-7 victory for senior KC McConnell and freshman Paige Rohrbach.
Junior Ashley Winslow was the first to finish in singles play. Winslow grabbed the quick win, going 6-2 and 6-0. Pacific scored their only two points on courts 2 and 3 against Wiley and Adams, respectively. However, Burns’ 6-0, 6-2 victory decided the match, giving Whitworth an insurmountable 5-1 lead.
“My goal for singles was just to try and stay energized from the beginning,” Burns said. “I think I was able to place the ball really well and move her around more, which gave me the opportunity to get a winner.”
The Pirates ended the day with a 7-2 win over the Boxers.
Sunday’s non-conference match against Lewis-Clark St. gave the Bucs a chance to try out some new combinations in doubles. Hoyos and McConnell made short work of their opponents on court 1 with an 8-2 win.
“I thought we played really well right from the beginning,” McConnell said. “We started out on fire, hit a lot of good shots, and made our opponents just play a lot of balls. We were really excited to play together too. It was a good match up.”
No. 2 doubles team, Wiley and Adams sustained a narrow 8-6 loss, but the Pirates came out on top after Rohrbach and Winslow won 9-7 on court 3.
In singles, Hoyos got up early with a 2-1 lead in her first set, but could not recover after losing the next four games and eventually fell to her opponent 7-5 and 6-4. McConnell defeated her counterpart 6-3, 6-2 on court 4 and No. 6 Rohrbach went to a third set to win hers 6-1, 4-6, and 10-2.
Despite the strong showing, the Bucs ended up losing to Lewis-Clark St. 5-4. Although, this loss does not affect the Pirates’ chances of getting into post-season play. Whitworth will travel to Tacoma next weekend to play Pacific Lutheran, Saturday and Puget Sound on Sunday. The Bucs must win both matches in order to earn the final NWC tournament bid.
“We are cautiously optimistic,” head coach Rachel Aldridge said. “The two teams we play next weekend are solid competitors, so we can’t look past them, but we are definitely playing much better tennis than we were at the front of our season. Whatever the results are, I feel strongly about us competing to the best of our abilities next weekend.”