Women’s tennis sets the tone for the upcoming season

Kyle Howe

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Over the past weekend the Whitman women’s tennis team was hard at work at the USTA/ITA Fall Regional Tournament, their first major tournament of the season.

The stakes at this competition are high, as every participant competes for the few available positions in the USTA/ITA Fall National Tournament in Mobile, Ala., and All-American recognition.

Kate Kunkel-Patterson ’13 gets ready to serve during the first major tournament of the tennis season. Photos and video by Ben Woletz.

The Missionaries found success on their home courts throughout the weekend, as Whitman played host to the prestigious tournament. Both singles and doubles competitions had all-Whitman finals: sophomores Courtney and Morgan Lawless faced off in singles, while Courtney Lawless and senior Alyssa Roberg teamed up against Morgan Lawless and first-year Jenna Dobrin in doubles. The end results: Courtney Lawless beat her twin sister 6-0, 6-1, and then Courtney Lawless and Roberg took the doubles crown with a 6-1, 6-2 win.

These results mean both Courtney Lawless and Roberg are headed to Mobile, Ala. for the USTA/ITA Fall National Tournament Oct. 11-14.

“The [regional] tournament was amazing,” said fifth-year coach John Hein. “We go in looking to see where we’re at but also where we can improve, and we showed that we are the team to beat in the Northwest but we also learned how each player can still get better for the spring. Obviously, having all Whitman finals in singles and doubles to win both draws and the consolation doubles is a dream for any coach.”

The results of this tournament have firmly established Whitman as a serious contender in the region, as well as nationally.

Morgan Lawless ’15 during the competition

“We’re aware that we’re capable of moving up in the national rankings and making a run at the NCAA finals in Kalamazoo, Mich., so we know we’re on track with our goals but we also know we have a lot of work to do to get there. This weekend showed us specifically what each player can work on,” said Hein.

The team has high hopes for the spring season and aims to win the Northwest Conference and West Region.

“With everyone playing so well, we should be able to win Conference,” said Courtney Lawless.

The tournament allowed the team to show their true colors and how well they will function as a team.

“We all showed a lot of our mental and physical capacity as individuals and as teammates. As a freshman, I think the results really showed the level of strength our team brings to the table against the other schools in our conference and it has given me a lot of belief that we will do really well in our upcoming season and hopefully win our conference [and] make it to nationals as a team,” said first-year Katrina Allick.

The results of this tournament will only help to bring the team closer together, as players gained experience that will help them as they progress through the rest of the season.

“I’m so happy with how the team helped each other out, was responsible for their preparation and put themselves in positions to focus on each match,” said Hein.

Kate Kunkel-Patterson ’13

The tournament was an especially helpful stepping stone for the team’s new players––including first-years Allick, Dobrin and Kate Rubinstein––as it helped introduce them to collegiate-level tennis.

“I have had a harder time mentally adjusting to playing here, but I think with a little time off and more work I can get back to where I was over the summer and come in strong during our season in the spring,” said Allick.

The transition from last year has been smooth, as the team will only gain experience.

“Each year is different. Last year, we were very talented but incredibly young. This year we have amazing leadership in every class. I’m especially proud of our sophomores Erin, Courtney, Maddy and Morgan, who are not just putting in great efforts with their tennis, but have a much better concept of how to lead, which is huge. So I’d say we have improved in our areas of strength, especially with confidence and team cohesion,” said Hein.

Jenna Dobrin ’16 during the competition

The entire team is excited and ready to go as they anxiously wait for the spring.

“We have for the most part all the players from last year’s team and it can only get better adding in the amazing freshmen we have now,” said Courtney Lawless.

The entire team will practice for the remainder of the week and then take a break until the spring season, while singles and doubles ITA All-American Courtney Lawless and her partner, doubles All-American Roberg, prepare for the USTA/ITA National Small College Championships next month.

 

Women’s Varsity Tennis at the USTA/ITA Fall Regional Tournament from Whitman Pioneer on Vimeo.

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