First Years Shine on First Day of USTA/ITA Regionals
Walla Walla, Wash.- The USTA/ITA Fall Northwest Regional started off on a sour note for the Whitman Women's tennis team today, as the team woke up to the sad news that defending champion Alyssa Roberg (Santa Cruz, CA) was withdrawing from singles competition due to a respiratory infection. Damp spirits evaporated a quickly as the dew on Ankeny's grass, however, as a pair of Whitman first years opened their careers by advancing to the round of 16 in the singles tournament.
Jenna Dobrin (Camarillo, CA), one of eight #9 seeds, did as expected for the Missionaries by easing past Lewis and Clark's Izzy Borris before trouncing Linfield's Lizzie Kubitz 6-0, 6-1 on her way to the 3rd round. While Dobrin's success was expected, the Whits got a pleasant surprise when fellow first yearKate Rubinstein (Potland, OR), who fought her way into the second round with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Leah Newell of PLU stunned 9th-seeded Molly Beaumont of George Fox 6-2, 6-0. Dobrin will meet the #6 seed Claudia Lew from Lewis and Clark for a spot in the quarterfinals. Rubinstein will play the #4 seed and Lewis and Clark Pioneer, who is fresh off a 6-0, 6-1 victory over Whitman qualifier Katrina Allick (San Fransisco, CA).
Joining the first years in the Round of 16 will be sophomore sensations and first team all-NWC selections Courtney and Morgan Lawless (Austin, TX). Courtney and Morgan were both nearly flawless in their freshmen campaigns, and they seem to have picked up where they left off. 2nd-seeded Courtney, who lost her only conference match in the quarterfinals here last year, dropped just two games in victories over Pacific's Francesca Battaglia and George Fox's Shaina Inn on her way to the third round, while 5th-seeded Morgan dropped three in her victories over Puget Sound's Allison Embernate and Linfield's Lexi Thomas. Morgan will be looking to improve performance from a year ago, when she fell to Roberg 6-3, 6-0 in the semifinals.
The match of the day goes to senior Kate Kunkel-Patterson (Yakima, WA) who breezed into the second round with a 6-3, 6-0 victory over Pacific's Amber Craviotto before finding herself in a battle with 8th-seeded Saryn Mooney from Whitworth. After taking the first set 6-3, Kunkel-Patterson fell into an early second set hole. She chiseled away at the lead before falling 3-6, setting up a dramatic 10-point tiebreaker for the match. In the tiebreaker, Mooney used the momentum from her second set victory to build a 9-4 lead before Kunkel-Patterson saved five consecutive match points. After changing ends, Mooney tightened her resolve to win the final two points to clinch the victory. It was a tough loss for Kunkel-Patterson, but a courageous and valiant effort nonetheless.
Other Whits in action Saturday were sophomores Erin Minuth (who found herself on the losing end of a 6-4, 6-1 match against PLU's Samantha Lund) and Maddy Webster (Long Beach, CA) who fell to Linfield's Caroline Brigham.
Minuth, Webster, and Allick joined teammate Olivia Bates (Edmonds, WA) in the consolation bracket. Bates bounced back from a disappointing qualifying loss to topple Willamette's Yasmine Genena 7-6 (2), 6-1 in the opening round of consolation play. Check back later for more consolation results.
After singles play completed for the day, the Missionaries returned to the courts this afternoon for the first two rounds of doubles, this time accompanied by Roberg, who is well enough to compete in less-physical doubles matches. She and partner Courtney Lawless, the #1 seeds, are looking to reprise their roles as champions from a year ago, and got off to a good start with a pair of 8-0 victories.
On the opposite side of the draw, #5 seeds Jenna Dobrin and Morgan Lawless punched their ticket into the quarterfinals by beating doubles teams from Linfield and Puget Sound 8-0 and 8-4, respectively.
All of the doubles news wasn't good for Whitman, however, as their other three doubles teams all fell in the first round. Fellow San Franciscans Katrina Allick and Erin Minuth were ousted 8-2 by Lewis and Clark's Izzy Borris and Lisa Osepyan; Bates and Rubinstein were toppled by the 3rd-seeded team of Aurora Garrison and Claudia Lew; and the Kunkel-Patterson/Webster duo fell to Heringer and Poltavski of Willamette.
In consolation matches, both the Allick/Minuth and Bates/Rubinstein doubles teams ran out of gas despite putting up great fights. Kunkel-Patterson and Webster helped finish the night on a winning note for Whitman by winning their first round of consolation 8-5 over Sweetman and McCluskey of Lewis and Clark.
The Whitman women's tennis team will return tomorrow, as players compete for all-American honors and a spot in the USTA/ITA Fall National tournament in Mobile, AL. singles matches start at 9AM. For updated scores, see the links below.