Otto Nets NWC Women's Tennis Award,
Readies for Last Home Match Saturday

News Release Date:
Tuesday, March 29, 2011

WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- Senior Elise Otto, who plays the final home match of her Whitman College career this Saturday, has been named Northwest Conference Student-Athlete of the Week for women's tennis.

Her latest NWC award, announced today, is the fourth in her four seasons at Whitman. 

Elise Otto

It recognizes her contributions to four Whitman matches last week during a Spring Break trip to California.

Otto won three of her four matches at No. 2 singles, one of which was a three-set victory over Chapman's Kelly Fox, who holds a No. 11 singles ranking in the West Region of NCAA Division III.

Otto also teamed with sophomore Alyssa Roberg to win two of four matches at No. 1 doubles. One of their wins was an 8-5 triumph over Chapman's Fox and Liz Lewis, the second-ranked doubles duo in the West Region.

Otto and Roberg nearly posted two more big wins at No. 1 doubles in California. They held a 7-4 lead over a pair of Redlands opponents before failing to convert two match points on the way to a 9-7 loss.

Otto and Roberg also dropped a close 8-6 decision to a Claremont-Mudd-Scripps duo, the top-ranked doubles team in the West Region.

Whitman returns to NWC action this weekend, hosting Pacific at 10 a.m. Saturday. Weather permitting, the match will take place on the outdoor courts (inside Bratton Tennis Center in case of rain).

The Missionaries then travel to Spokane on Sunday for a noon match against Whitworth.

At 6-2 in the NWC, Whitman begins the weekend in third place in the conference standings, just ahead of fourth-place Willamette (6-3). The top four teams in the final standings advance to the post-season playoffs, set for April 16-17 on the campus of the regular season champion.

With two weekends left in the regular season, Whitworth is in first place with an 8-0 record while Linfield is second at 9-1.

Earlier this season, Whitman squeaked past Pacific 5-4 in Forest Grove, Ore. Pacific, now 2-5 on the season, plays Whitworth on Friday in Spokane before coming to Walla Walla on Saturday.

Elise Otto

Whitman dropped a 6-3 decision to Whitworth early in March in Walla Walla. That match was tied at 3-3 before the Pirates swept the last three decisions in singles.

After this weekend, the Whitman women wrap up the NWC regular season with matches April 8-9 at Puget Sound and Pacific Lutheran, two teams they subdued earlier this month.

John Hein, Whitman's third-year coach, hopes for a good turnout at Saturday's final home match, both to boost the team in its late-season run at the playoffs and to give Otto a good send-off as she steps onto her home courts for a last time.

"Elise has shown she is a national-level player in singles and doubles, and she is is one of the most successful athletes we've had at Whitman," Hein says. 

"But, more than her achievements on court, Elise is the perfect model for what college sports are about. She is well rounded off the court, and I can't begin to say enough about how much she means to this team as a leader and as a voice of reason and inspiration. 

"It is not often that someone has so much talent and still finds ways to constantly grow as a player and as a person. I'm a better coach working with Elise; it's not often that coaches get the opportunity to work with a person like her."

Otto, who capped her first three seasons with All-NWC First-Team honors, has already surpassed 100 spring season career victories in singles and doubles. 

Otto also is a two-time ITA All-American, based on her play at the annual fall ITA tournaments.

She won the regional singles and doubles title as a sophomore, missed the fall tournament as a junior while on foreign study, and then teamed with Roberg to win the doubles title again last fall.

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CONTACT: Dave Holden
Sports Information Director
Whitman College, Walla Walla, Wash.
509 527-5902; holden@whitman.edu

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