Whit Tennis Women Drop Close Singles Decisions at Nationals
News Release Date:
Wednesday, May 23
WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- Whitman College tennis players Alyssa Roberg and Courtney Lawless waged good battles but came up short in Thursday's opening round of the NCAA Division III National Singles Championships in Cary, N.C.
Roberg, a junior and the Northwest Conference Player of the Year, lost 7-5, 6-2 to fifth-seeded Kristin Alotta, a senior at Williams, which captured its fifth consecutive national team title earlier in the week.
Lawless, who earned All-NWC First Team honors this spring in her first season at Whitman, fell 6-4, 6-3 to Leah Kepping, a junior at Middlebury, which has a No. 4 national ranking.
Despite the losses, it is "hard not to be so happy to be here among the top 32 players in the country," Whitman coach John Hein said.
"We had two Whitties on adjacent courts, playing a very high level of tennis."
While eliminated from the 32-player singles championship, Roberg and Lawless are one of 16 duos entered in the doubles championships, which gets underway later today.
The opening round of doubles pits Roberg and Lawless against Corinne Rauck and Kate Klein, a duo from Washington University (St. Louis).
In her singles match, Roberg used a pair of service breaks to take a 4-3 first-set lead against Alotta, who played No. 1 singles for Williams this spring as it rolled to its unprecedented fifth straight national title.
Later in that set, Roberg uncorked a big overhand to hold serve and forge a 5-5 tie. But Alotta, the 2012 ITA Senior of the Year, picked off the next two games to take the first set 7-5.
Alotta parlayed her momentum to a quick 3-0 lead in the second set. After the two players split the next four games, the Williams senior captured a final game to take the set (6-2) and match.
Roberg was "on her game," Hein said, but was unable to overcome an "intense competitor" from Williams who was finishing off a brilliant senior season for the Ephs.
In the first set of her singles match, Lawless rallied from a 3-1 deficit to seize a 4-3 advantage. But Middlebury's Kepping countered with three straight games to take the set 6-4.
Lawless inched in front 2-1 in the second before Kepping pieced together three more games for a 4-2 cushion. After Lawless held serve to make it 4-3, Kepping polished off two more games to advance to the second round.
Lawless played "smart tennis" and "executed pretty well" to gain her first-set lead, but Kepping "really stepped up her execution on big points and hit some great winners," Hein said. "She neutralized Courtney's offense to take the first set and carry that momentum to a straight-set victory."
The loss snapped a remarkable 20-match winning streak in singles that Lawless had assembled during her first spring of college competition. She dropped her first match of the spring season to Lewis-Clark State's Dominika Jasova and then won her next 20 decisions.
"We made a great showing and feel great about the level of tennis we played, but we're also learning what it takes to keep moving our tennis to the next level," Hein said.
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CONTACT: Dave Holden
Sports Information Director
Whitman College, Walla Walla, Wash.
509 527-5902; firstname.lastname@example.org