Whit Women Advance at ITA Nationals

News Release Date:
Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Lawless and Roberg are the 10th-ranked doubles team in the nation

Mobile, Ala.- It was a mixed bag for the Whitman women's tennis team Wednesday morning at the Copeland-Cox Tennis Center. For the second year in a row, a Whitman's singles qualifier lost the play-in match at the ITA Fall Nationals. For the third year in a row, the Whitman women's doubles qualifiers advanced into the final field of eight teams.

On a balmy, humid day in Alabama, play started off with the singles match, as Whitman's Courtney Lawless (Austin, TX) took on fellow-Texan Brittni Fausett of Mary Hardin-Baylor. Lawless started the match on the right foot, jumping out to early lead. Said Coach John Hein, "(Fausett) was a little nervous to start, and Courtney took advantage of that. She was up a break, 4-1, but her opponent relaxed and started playing much better."

Courtney Lawless, So.

Fausett, who transferred to Mary Hardin-Baylor after playing two years at DI Northern Illinois, started playing more consistently, forcing several long deuce games. At that point, the heat began to take its toll on Lawless, who was kept off the practice court the last two weeks because of an injury she sufferend during her championship run at the ITA Fall Regionals. Lawless was unable to play her normal, grinding game, and forced to try to keep the point short by coming to the net. Fausett came up with some spectacular passing shots, and rattled off five straight games to take the first set 6-4.

Though Lawless fought hard, the second set followed the same script as the first. Lawless jumped out to a 3-0 lead before Fausett won four consecutive deuce games to seize the lead and the momentum, before topping off a 6-4, 6-3 victory. According to Coach Hein, fatigue played a key role, "I've never seen fitness be an issue for Courtney, but with her injury limiting her time on the court and in the gym, she wasn't in the kind of shape she wanted to be in."

Despite her fatigue, Hein claimed Courtney, "played great all day. She would've beaten a lot of players today. She was playing and serving very well."

After the singles match, Lawless had just an hour to recover before returning in the mid-day heat to play doubles. In that match, she teamed with senior Alyssa Roberg (Scotts Valley, CA) to rekindle a burgeoning rivalry with Mackenzie Knoop and Thavindra Ekanayake of Trinity University (TX), the 12th-ranking doubles team int eh country.

With Lawless showing no ill-effects from her singles match and Roberg playing with "a ton of energy," the Missionary doubles team, ranked #10 nationally, broke in the third game to take a 3-1 lead. After briefly holding a two-break lead at 5-2, the Whits served out the set on their second chance to win the set 6-4.

Alyssa Roberg, Sr.

With the first set in their back pocket, the Whits didn't rest on their laurels, as they broke in the first game of the second to take the lead for good. After trading holds to make it 2-1, Whitman broke again and eventually cruised to a 6-4, 6-2 victory. Said Coach Hein of the match, "They played better team doubles, covered well, and played aggressive at the net. Alyssa had a ton of energy, but Courtney didn't look tired."

With the victory, Lawless and Roberg advance to the main draw of eight for the second year in a row. Last year, they placed 6th in the field of eight. Roberg also advanced to the main draw with Elise Otto two years ago, where they finished 8th. This time, however, Lawless and Roberg will be entering at the #2 seeds, and they will be shooting for Whitman's first national championship of any kind after advancing to the quarterfinals of individual nationals last spring. Tomorrow, they will play Bridget Doyle and Mikayla Becich of Carleton College, the champions of the Midwest regional. The match will start at 3 PM Central time. Follow Coach Hein (@Coachhein) on Twitter for up-to-the-minute match updates.