Whit Women's Tennis Battles in Singles but Falls to Athenas
News Release Date:
Saturday, May 12
WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- Despite waging a good fight in singles, the Whitman College women's tennis team dropped a 5-0 decision to the Athenas of Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (CMS) in Saturday's second round of the NCAA Division III National Championships.
Playing in a six-team regional tournament in Claremont, Calif., Whitman was unable to keep pace with CMS, now 21-3 on the season and ranked No. 9 nationally (No. 1 West Region).
"We could have played a little better in doubles, but this was still a very good match," Whitman coach John Hein said.
The Missionaries, making their first-ever appearance in the NCAA championships, saw their season end with an 18-5 record.
The Athenas, the regional host and top-seeded team in the regional, had a first-round bye on Friday as Whitman slugged its way past UC-Santa Cruz 5-3 in an opening round match.
CMS advances to Sunday's regional final, where they face Pomona-Pitzer (16-7), which knocked off Trinity 5-2 in Saturday's other second-round match.
In Saturday's opening round of doubles, Whitman nearly salvaged a team point at the No. 3 spot, where sophomore Hannah Palkowitz and first-year teammate Hannah Palkowitz battled to a 6-6 deadlock. But opponents Chloe Dobbert and Jaclyn Smrecek won the next two games to complete the doubles sweep for the Athenas.
Junior Alyssa Roberg and first-year teammate Courtney Lawless held their own at the start of the No. 1 doubles match, but Kristin Lim and Jessie Huang took the last three games for an 8-5 victory.
Senior Emily Rolston and first-year Missionary Morgan Lawless had a tougher time at No. 2 doubles, losing 8-2 to Crystal Lim and Sarah Kukino.
"It makes it tough to fall behind 3-0, but we totally rebounded from that and fought to the very last ball in singles," Hein said.
The six matches in singles were more competitive, although CMS claimed the first two decisions to clinch the team triumph at 5-0.
Ater Dobbert downed junior Kate Kunkel-Patterson 6-2, 6-2 at No. 4 singles, Smrecek won the last two games at No. 5 to finish a 6-3, 7-5 victory over Webster.
"Kate played well, but her opponent played extremely well," Hein said. "Maddy got down 5-2 in her second set but refused to quit. She played so hard and so well to get that set back to 5-5. That was some of the best tennis we've seen her play."
Rolston, playing her last collegiate match at No. 6 singles, held a 7-5, 3-2 lead over Victoria Santoro when CMS clinched and the remaining matches were left unfinished.
Courtney Lawless, working on a 20-match winning streak, was on the doorstop of victory at No. 2 singles with a 7-6, 5-3 lead over Crystal Lim at No. 2 singles.
"Both Emily and Courtney were up a set and hopefully close to winning their matches," Hein said.
Morgan Lawless also had victory within sight at No. 3 singles, where she led Kukino 4-6, 6-1, 2-1.
In the unfinished match at No. 1 singles, Roberg lost the opening set 7-6 to Kristin Lim and trailed 5-1 in the second.
"Morgan was playing really well, and Alyssa put everything she had into her first set," Hein said. "Alyssa's opponent is probably the second-best player in Division III."
"It's tough to lose when you are competitive and capable of winning each match," Hein added.
"At the same time we're happy to have been here and played so well. We're proud of all we accomplished this year, but we'll definitely learn from this and come back stronger next season."
For now, however, Roberg and Courtney Lawless continue their seasons later this month at the NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships.
The two Missionaries are among the 32 players from around the country invited to compete in the singles tournament. They will also be one of the 16 doubles teams in that tournament.
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CONTACT: Dave Holden
Sports Information Director
Whitman College, Walla Walla, Wash.
509 527-5902; email@example.com