With freshmen Amy Fong and Leslie Whitten winning the doubles crown, the Whitman women finished in a first-place tie with Whitworth College for the NCIC team championship. Every Whitman player notched at least one victory during the tournament, and Fong and Whitten were among eight players named to the NCIC All-Conference Team.
Whitman coach Jayne McCarthy also claimed "Coach of the Year" honors. It was the third time in her 10 years of coaching that McCarthy has claimed that award.
The only blemish in Whitman's otherwise perfect weekend was that Whitworth, based on its two regular-season match victories over the Missionaries, claimed the NCIC's one and only team berth to the NAIA national championships.
"It really is too bad the tie-breaker for nationals was based on regular season results," McCarthy said. "We have a very young team, and our players continued to get stronger and stronger as the season progressed. I'm very proud of this team and what it was able to accomplish over the season."
The Missionaries had four freshmen, one sophomore and one senior entered in the tournament.
Even though Whitworth walked away with the only team berth to nationals, Whitman's Fong and Whitten will advance because they won the doubles title. Willamette University senior Brooke Gannon also earned a ticket to nationals by winning the NCIC singles title.
Whitman and Whitworth finished in a first-place tie with 36 points each. Willamette was third with 31 points followed by Pacific Lutheran with 30. Others teams and their point totals were Puget Sound 24, Lewis & Clark 22, Pacific 21, George Fox 13 and Linfield 9.
Schools collected two points for each victory in the championship bracket and one point for each win in the consolation bracket.
Fong and Whitten, two first-year players from Spokane, Wash., did not lose a set in breezing through the doubles field. They began the tournament as the No. 2 doubles seed and knocked off three opponents to make the finals, where they upset the No. 1 seed, Willamette's Gannon and Laura Ragee, 6-3, 6-1.
"Amy and Leslie played their best match of the season in the championship final," McCarthy noted. "Everything was going right for them in that match. They peaked at just the right time."
Fong, a graduate of Spokane's Mead High School, also made a strong showing in the top flight of the singles bracket. Following a first-round bye, Fong posted straight-set victories over two opponents before losing in the semifinals to top-seeded Mari Hrebenar of the University of Puget Sound in three sets, 4-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-4.
Whitten, a graduate of Spokane's University High School, won her first two matches in the top singles flight before losing in the quarterfinals.
Thuy Ha Nguyen, a senior from Portland's Benson High School, was Whitman's third entry in the top singles flight. Nguyen won her first match in three sets before losing to Puget Sound's Hrebenar 7-6 (7-3), 6-0.
The NCIC tournament also included a second singles flight in which schools entered three more singles players.
Leah Larson, a freshman from La Jolla (Calif.) Country Day High, made Whitman's best showing in that flight, winning her first two matches in three sets before losing in the quarterfinals.
Lina Shanley, a Whitman freshman from Mountain View High School in Bend, Oregon, lost her opening match in the lower flight to drop into the consolation bracket. There, she reeled off three straight victories to claim the consolation championship.
Whitman's third entry in the lower singles flight, Cedar Brown, a sophomore from Ashland (Ore.) High School, dropped her first match in three sets before splitting a pair of matches in the consolation bracket.
Whitman also had two other entries in the doubles competition. Nguyen and Larson won their first match in three sets before falling to a team that later advanced to the semifinals. Brown and Shanley also posted an opening round victory before losing to another team that made the semifinals.