Pirates pilliage Missionaries


This past weekend, the Northwest Conference Tournament marked the end of the season for the Whitman women, and the collegiate careers of seniors Divneet Kaur and Hadley DeBree. On Friday, April 16, the Missionaries had two matches. The first was a 5-0 rout of sixth-seeded Pacific University, while the second came down to the wire, upsetting the number two-seeded Linfield College, 5-4. With both victories under their belt, the Missionaries advanced to the finals on Saturday against top-seeded Whitworth University. But the Pirates proved to be too much, dispatching Whitman, 5-3.

Going into the tournament as the number three seed, Whitman had a battle to fight. Unlike the number one or two seeds, they did not have a first round bye. However, they easily dispatched Pacific, winning 5-0. In doubles, junior Elise Otto and first-year Alyssa Roberg won a hard-fought match at number one, 9-8 (7-4); DeBree and Kaur won 8-4 at number two; and first-year Kate Kunkel-Patterson and sophomore Emily Rolston won 8-6 at number three.

Going into the singles matches up 3-0, Whitman quickly ended the match. Otto defeated her opponent at number one singles 6-1, 6-1, and Kaur, at number three singles, blanked her opponent 6-0, 6-0 to end the match at 5-0.

Later that Friday afternoon, Whitman took on a more formidable opponent in number two-seeded Linfield. Otto and Roberg started off the doubles match with an 8-5 win at number one doubles, but the teams of Kaur/DeBree and Kunkel-Patterson/Rolston fell 5-8 and 8-9 at number two and three doubles, respectively.

On the singles side, Roberg fell at number one, 3-6, 4-6, but Otto quickly answered back at number two, winning by the same score. DeBree fell at number three 4-6, 6-2, 4-6.   However, the last three of the singles line-up all pulled out victories. Kaur bested her opponent at number four 6-1, 6-4; Rolston won 6-1, 6-2 at number five and Kunkel-Patterson came back from being down a set 1-6, 6-4, 6-2.

Having lost to Linfield twice during the season 5-4, the upset put the Missionaries in good spirits.

“Anytime you play a closely matched team and it comes down to 4-4 and the last match on decides it, it creates an amazing atmosphere that is a thrill to be a part of; pulling out that last match is a feeling that is hard to describe if you’ve never been a part of it,” said Head Coach John Hein. “Linfield has a proud and wonderful program that always shows up to play and while we have been close for years, they have found a way to eek out wins time after time, so for Hadley and Div in their senior year it was definitely a sweet thing to beat the Wildcats.”

On Saturday, the Missionaries had high hopes going into a match-up with Whitworth University, the number one seed and favorite to win the tournament.

Just as with Linfield, Whitman dropped two before singles-play started. Otto and Roberg got the win 8-5 at number one doubles. DeBree and Kaur fell 3-8 at number two and Kunkel-Patterson and Rolston fell 5-8 at number three.

In singles, Otto and Kaur showed sparks, winning 6-4, 6-2 at number two and 6-2, 6-3 at number four, respectively, while the rest of the Missionaries struggled. DeBree fell 1-6, 0-6 at number three, Rolston at number five fell 0-6, 4-6, and Kunkel-Patterson fell 6-2, 7-6 (7-5) at number six. Kunkel-Patterson’s match clinched the the fifth victory and the tournament title for Whitworth University, and left the number one singles match with Roberg unfinished, but down 7-6 (7-5), 4-1.

“We fought like champions and left it all on the court against Whitworth,” said Hein. “We can be very proud of everything we’ve accomplished.”

Placing second at the conference tournament puts a cap on the best season the Whitman women have had in the past decade. Though not advancing further in the post-season, Hein received the Northwest Conference Coach of the Year Award along with first team All-Conference honors for Otto and Roberg.

With only two graduating seniors, the Missionaries will look to return to the conference finals next year and to much more success in the years to come.