Last home match for seniors, women’s tennis looks forward to conference tournament

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Photo Credit : Jacobson

This weekend, Whitman women’s tennis swept their last two home matches of the season. They defeated Lewis and Clark College 6-3 on Saturday, April 10, and Willamette University 7-2 on Sunday, clinching the number three seed in next weekend’s Northwest Conference tournament.

Saturday began with a hard-fought match at number one doubles. First-year Alyssa Roberg and junior Elise Otto had their hands full with their Lewis and Clark counterparts, Lisa Harunaga and Isabelle Borris. The points went back and forth, with strong serving and unforced errors plaguing both sides. However, in the end, Harunaga and Borris got the upper hand, winning 9-8 (7-4).

The other two doubles matches were less eventful: both Whitman victories. At number two doubles, seniors Divneet Kaur and Hadley DeBree won handily 8-5 against DeBree’s younger sister, Whitney DeBree, and Jill Coleman; and at number three doubles, first-year Kate Kunkel-Patterson and sophomore Emily Rolston dominated their opponents, winning 8-2.

Singles also went well for Whitman on Saturday. At number one singles, Roberg was victorious, winning her match 7-5, 6-2. At number two, Otto dispatched the younger DeBree 6-2, 6-0. While at number four singles, Kaur bested her counterpart 6-1, 6-0, and at number six, Kunkel-Patterson won 6-1, 6-0. The two singles losses for Whitman were at number three and five spots, where DeBree fell short 6-0, 7-5 and Rolston lost 2-6, 7-5, 10-8, respectively.

On Sunday, the Missionaries’ doubles-play started strong, with Otto and Roberg squeezing by 8-6 in the number one match. Seniors  Kaur and DeBree, competing in the last home match of thier Whitman careers,  defeated their foes 8-4 at number two doubles. The only loss on the doubles side came from Rolston and Kunkel-Patterson, 8-6 at number three doubles.

On the singles side, the only loss was at number one with Roberg falling 6-2, 6-4 to Natalia Agarycheva, the top number one singles player in the Northwest Conference. At number two singles, Otto won 6-2, 6-2; at number three, DeBree won 6-3, 7-5; at number five Rolston won 6-4, 1-6, 10-7. At the four and six spot, Kaur and Kunkel-Patterson blanketed their opponents, taking the the match 6-0, 6-0.  At number six Kunkel-Patterson won 6-0, 6-0.

This weekend marked the last home matches for the two seniors, Kaur and DeBree. Many fans and family members showed up to cheer them on, and for the DeBree family in particular, it was a family affair, as Hadley took on her younger sister, Whitney, in doubles.

“It was awesome having family and alumni watching our matches this weekend. It really made Hadley and my final home matches special. This season has been glorious. We have had way too much fun and have been consistently playing a high level of tennis,” said Kaur.

This week’s focus will surely be on the upcoming conference championships. Despite being seeded third overall, Coach John Hein remains cautiously optimistic.

“Going in as the three seed adds an extra round and a schedule with two matches in one day, which could be a negative, but this kind of schedule is something we’ve done five times this year so we feel physically and mentally prepared. It is also great to be on the opposite side of the draw as top seed Whitworth, but we know that all six teams are talented and hungry and we’ll have to play our best to advance through each round, so we’re ready for anything,” he said.

For the Missionaries to win the tournament and the automatic berth in the NCAA Division III national championship field that goes with it, they will seriously have to step their game up.

“The bottom line is that for two days we have to play our best tennis of the season in order to advance to regionals, which is something we’ve talked about from day one,”  Hein said. “I absolutely can’t wait to get to Yakima to play and prove what we’re capable of in this tournament.”

With the two wins this weekend, the Whitman Missionaries go start off the conference tournament playing the number six seed, Pacific University.