Courtney Lawless, Alyssa Roberg headed to tennis nationals

Tuesday, Sep 25, 2012

WALLA WALLA — Whitman women’s tennis John Hein coach called it “a coaches’ dream” to watch his players battle each other Monday in the finals of the USTA/ITA Fall Regionals finals on their own courts.

“It was amazing, knowing you were going to win either way,” Hein said, “And they all played great tennis, and the rest of the team was there cheering them on.

Courtney Lawless
Morgan Lawless

“It was championship tennis ... really, really good tennis.”

Sophomore Courtney Lawless (Austin, Texas) led the Whitman championship charge as she won the tournament’s singles title and then teamed up with senior Alyssa Roberg (Scotts Valley, Calif.) to capture the doubles crown. And in both matches, sophomore Morgan Lawless (Austin Texas), Courtney’s twin sister, came out on the losing end.

Courtney Lawless bested her sister 6-0, 6-1 in the singles final. And she and Roberg topped Morgan Lawless and freshman Jenna Dobrin (Camarillo, Calif.) 6-1, 6-2 to claim the tournament’s doubles crown for a second straight year.

“Courtney has always been a little bit ahead of Morgan,” Hein said of his twin sister duo. “But the matches between each other are not indicative of where they are as tennis players because they know each other so well. That makes it a little harder.

“But they were both very focused and played good tennis, and I’d say three-quarters of the games were close and hard fought. The matches were closer and more competitive than the scores indicate.”

The doubles final was the only match of the day in doubles play. But the Lawless sisters had to earn semifinals victories Monday morning before advancing to the singles championship match.

Courtney Lawless, who lost just eight games in six matches during the course of the tournament, defeated Olivia Cornell of Lewis & Clark 6-0, 6-1 in her semifinal test. And Morgan Lawless toppled Denise Poltavski of Willamette 6-2, 7-5.

Roberg came into the tournament as the top-seeded singles player but opted not to compete in singles because of a respiratory infection.

Morgan Lawless
Courtney Lawless

“She made that decision on the first day of the tournament,” Hein said. “She decided she wasn’t healthy enough to do all the running in singles, but she looked really good Monday in doubles.”

Roberg and Courtney Lawless will make a second straight appearance in the USTA/ITA Small College National Championships in Mobile, Ala., beginning Oct. 10 when they face Mackenzie Knoop and Thavindra Ekanayke from Trinity (TX) in a play-in match. Last year Roberg and Lawless finished sixth at fall nationals and made the quarterfinals of the Spring NCAA national tournament.

After competing in the Spring NCAA national singles championships as a first year player, Courtney Lawless will be making her first appearance at the Fall USTA/ITA nationals in singles. She will meet Brittni Fausett from University of Mary Hardin Baylor in a play-in match on Oct. 10.

2012 USTA/ITA Regional Championships Northwest Women's Singles draws (PDF)

By qualifying for nationals, Lawless has earned ITA all-American status in both singles and doubles, and Roberg is an all-American in doubles.

Meanwhile, the remainder of the Whitman women will continue to practice through the rest of this week before breaking until spring when the tennis season resumes.

“We learned a lot in this tournament with some great wins and some tough losses,” Hein said. “As thrilled as we are for our success this weekend, every player learned some things they can improve on."

—Jim Buchan