Women Split Doubles Matches at Nationals
News Release Date:
Thursday, October 13
WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- Bring a bunch of uber-talented college tennis players onto the courts and the line between winning and losing is likely to be a fine one.
That axiom was true on Thursday as Whitman College teammates Alyssa Roberg and Courtney Lawless split a pair of decisions in doubles at the USTA / ITA National Small College Championships in Mobile, Ala.
Matched against the University of Chicago's Kendra Higgins and Stephanie Kung in a late morning opener, Roberg and Lawless rallied from a slow start but eventually fell a few points short of forcing a decisive third set.
Higgins and Kung, two of the top-ranked players in NCAA Division III, prevailed for a 6-0, 6-4 victory that dropped Roberg and Lawless into the consolation bracket. Playing with a different partner, Higgins won the doubles title at this tournament a year ago.
Later in the day, Roberg and Lawless faced Wisconsin-Whitewater's Kalla Schaefer and Alexandra Bayliss in the consolation bracket and eventually emerged with a wild 6-1, 0-6, 11-9 triumph.
After the two teams split the first two sets, the third set was played as a 10-point tie-breaker.
Whitman's duo snared the first two points, but the match turned quickly when the Wisconsin-Whitewater twosome clicked off seven straight points.
After Schaefer and Bayliss moved to the verge of victory at 9-4, the odds were slim that Roberg and Lawless could run off seven straight points of their own -- staving off five match-points in the process -- to notch an improbable win.
That's what they did, however, leaving their coach, John Hein, shaking his head.
"That has to be the weirdest doubles match I've ever seen," he said. "That was freaky tennis.
"We dominated the first set, they leapfrogged us in the second, and then we came from way back in the breaker."
After rising from the dead in the tie-breaker with six unanswered points, Roberg and Lawless found themselves back in front 10-9. Still, they needed the next point to win by the required two-point margin.
"There's no clock in tennis," Hein said. "You keep playing until you win by two."
Lawless served that next point and then handled the return, chipping a match-ending lob over the heads of Schaefer and Bayliss when they both came to the net.
Any doubles team with five match points in the bank is "going to win most of the time," Hein said.
"But Courtney and Alyssa kept playing every point and putting more and more pressure on the other team. They stayed strong and pulled it out. What an awesome finish."
The loss earlier in the day to Chicago's Higgins and Kung was "just a bit frustrating because we didn't play as well as we can in the first set," Hein said. "They eked out a couple of game at the start and all of a sudden we were down 4-0."
Roberg and Lawless played much better in the second set and were even at 4-4 before a long deuce game broke against them, giving Higgins and Kung a 5-4 lead. The Chicago team then served out the match.
"There was some outstanding tennis from both teams in the second set," Hein said.
By winning their first consolation match, Roberg and Lawless advance to Friday's match for fifth place. They play at 3:30 p.m. (Central time) against a duo from Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, Kristin Lim and Crystal Lim.
Kristn Lim was the nation's top-ranked NCAA DIII singles player at the end of last season.
This week's USTA / ITA tournament is taking place at the Copeland-Cox Tennis Center.
Roberg and Lawless earned their spot in the doubles bracket by winning the Pacific Northwest regional doubles title earlier this month and then beating a team from Trinity (Texas) in a play-in match on Wednesday.
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CONTACT: Dave Holden
Sports Information Director
Whitman College, Walla Walla, Wash.
509 527-5902; firstname.lastname@example.org