Sunday, February 28, 2010

Whitman Women Battle Bravely

But, we did come out on the short end of a 5-4 decision today, which having a team of scholars I'm sure we will learn from.

The match began with played pretty solid doubles, but we just could not grab the momentum and lost 6-8 at 1 and 3. Then, in danger of going down 3-0 in the match, Hadley and Alyssa prevailed in a close tiebreak at 2.

With this momentum, Alyssa got us our only straight set win of the day over All-American Abby Olbrich at #1. Her maturity in this match against an extremely tough competitor was outstanding. Speaking of maturity, after dropping the second set, Div came out strong to win 6-3 in the 3rd to put us up 3-2. Elise and Hadley dropped their first sets but Hadley came back strong before losing a 3rd set 6-1 that was much closer than the score. Elise and Sallie Katter had an absolute battle, Sallie taking the first set tiebreak 7-5 and then she got up 2 breaks in the second before Elise earned one back, eventually losing in a very high quality match from both players.

So, we needed the final two matches and at #5 Linfield's Kiana Nip played very well to beat Em in straight sets. At 6, with the match decided, Kate's rythym went up and down but she ultimately focused and played great tennis at the end to win a match tie break 10-8.

It was wonderful to be outside on our home courts with friends and family watching and cheering and while we didn't manage the result, we played with passion and are excited to head to Portland next weekend for two more great matchups.

Our Woman of the Match was Alyssa, not just for winning both, but also for her outstanding attitude and ability to withstand hot streaks from her opponents in both singles and doubles.

Best regards,

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Great win over Pacific

This weekend started with a gorgeous day of tennis on the Whitman campus.

We came out strong at 1 and 4 doubles winning 8-3 and 8-1 with Dena and Kate leading the way at 4. The crowd was great and it was so enjoyable seeing us pull out some close matches and retain wonderful composure up and down the lineup.

As a huge fan of ice hockey where they have 3 stars and soccer that has a man of the match, Katie and I have been awarding the Woman of the match each time and today Elise led the way both with her play and her support of her teammates, especially during Alyssa's match tie break. Today, we had to break our new tradition and award two Woman of the match awards because Dena was the best player during doubles with solid shotmaking, aggressive play and most of all incredible teamwork and focus from start to finish. She then kept herself glued courtside supporting everyone, especially Divneet during her hardfought two setter.

Tomorrow, we go right back to work with another big conference match at home, this time at 10am vs Linfield. If you are nearby, I hope to see you there as today's crowd was so wonderful.

-Coach Hein

Friday, February 26, 2010

Weekend Match Preview

This weekend at Whitman, we take on two great NWC rivals. On Saturday at noon we play Pacific, the team we beat for 3rd place last season. And then on Sunday, Linfield, who edged us for 2nd comes to town at 10am. I'll update the blog through the weekend as these exciting matches take place.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A long recap for a long and well fought match

Hi everyone,

Where to start? Today we were in Spokane for an absolutely huge test both for the progression of our program and for this years team that includes two wonderful seniors who are working super hard to make the future of Whitman tennis now.

If you're unfamiliar with the history, after Linfield clawed their way to 7 straight NWC titles, last season the entire conference got deeper, and Whitworth has a tremendous group of young players that gave them the depth to go undefeated in conference play last year. We lost to them 1-8 in Spokane and in a tight 3-6 match in Walla Walla.

Fast forward to today at 10am, we come out enthusiastic but very composed in doubles, going down a break early at 1 and 2 and playing solid at 3. Then, as happens so often in college matches, momentum came into play. While Hadley and Alyssa picked up more and more energy with spirited aggresive play at 2, Elise and Div stayed true to their gameplan and gained the upper hand through consistent execution and great teamwork. In the end, a super close #3 match slipped away 6-8 and we held our composure big time to win #1 8-4 and #2 8-5.

With energy and momentum on our side it did not take long to notch our third point of the day. Alyssa is capable of playing some amazing tennis and while I've been incredibly impressed with her improved strength and decision making, it was lights out power tennis in the first set as she blitzed a very good Alli Marshall 6-0. To Marshall's credit, the second set was much better, but very quickly we had a 3-1 lead as Alyssa won 6-0,6-2.

The #1 singles was a much different story, with the first two points ending in perfectly built points ended in clean winners, one by Elise, one by Rachel Burns of Whitworth. The two traded holds to 4-4 when Rachel finally broke and held to take the first. From there, Elise played tough and had moments of brilliance, but I'm sure she would not allow me to say that she played her best tennis. On the other hand, all credit to Rachel for completely stepping up and not letting Elise back in the match.

So, up 3-2 with Hadley winning a close first 7-5 and Div and Emily starting, we felt good, but knew that Whitworth's depth was lurking. Down 4-1 in the second, Hadley broke back and played such wonderful tennis but could not close the door at 5-4 and lost a tough tie break to send it to a third. Meanwhile, Div fought very hard, but had trouble establishing the right rhythm and went down bravely in straight sets. Kate followed with a straight set loss in a match she could have won but will teach her where her game needs to improve.

During all of this, Emily pulled off a huge first set tiebreak against Whitworth's Katie Stauginger, a super tough player who had never lost a NWC singles match. Staudinger lived up to her record by taking the second set. Before I describe the third, let me say that this #5 battle was so well played with hard hitting, lots of winners and tons of emotion, it could have been mistaken for a 1 or 2 match.

So, Emily and Hadley enter the third sets and Whitworth has taken a 4-3 lead so we need both of these. Hadley goes up 2-0, Em goes down 0-2. A few tough games later Em is down 2-3 and Had is up 3-2. Then, while Hadley battles point after point to 5-5, the cheers from yellow clad teammates turn to roars as Emily hits huge shot after huge shot, building points and finishing with incredible confidence to take the third set 6-3 and knot the match at 4-4 as Hadley's third set is at 5-5. The 5-5 game is super close with both players having chances and Whitworth's Mya Towne stepping up to go ahead 6-5. Finally, after an almost 4 hour singles match, Hadley sends a ball long and Whitworth wins 5-4.

Since you've made it this far, I have to say that while it was too cold to play outside to start the match, we did get in 2 doubles and 3 singles exhibitions outside, with Dena winning both singles and doubles with Charlotte and Lauren and Zoe also getting great matches in against this deep Whitworth team.

While upset to not pull off the upset today, our team can be proud of how our doubles is developing and also that we know up and down the lineup we have a shot to win at every spot. Our energy, compassion, support and sportsmanship were all tested today and all I can say is both how happy I am to be a part of this team and how much I look forward to learning from this match and moving on to next weeks home matches vs. Pacific and Linfield.

It was absolutely crucial to have the support of the Rolston's and Otto's there and we had no worries about being physically ready after a wonderful night's sleep and breakfast with the Otto's. Thanks so much!

Whew! This had to be a long post for such a long match, but if you see a Whittie, give her a hug because she deserves it.

-Coach Hein

Friday, February 19, 2010

Showdown in Spokane

Hello Whitman tennis fans.

If you're looking for the best tennis that the Northwest Conference has to offer, you should be in Spokane on Sunday at 10am as we do battle with defending conference champion Whitworth. Last year after they handled us 8-1 in Spokane we battled to a 3-6 defeat in Walla Walla including 4 three set matches.

Both teams have similar personnel returning, with each team graduating our #3 singles player and both getting some dynamic freshman. Even with Alyssa, Kate, Lauren and Dena bolstering our lineup, the steady improvement and workrate of the upperclassmen gives me great confidence up and down the lineup. People constantly ask how the team is doing and how our season looks and I must say that we have done the work and are prepared physically, mentally and emotionally. In that frame of mind, there is incredible excitement on the team to get up for this match and play our best.

If you don't want to take my word for it, look to the improved score against LCSC last weekend or the fact that as a team we do periodic fitness testing and the teams averages for both our speed and agility tests were cut by .24 and .28 seconds respectively and almost everyone improved their endurance on the beep test.

Whitworth is a scary team to play because they can win at every spot, but the preparation is there, we are incredibly excited to compete and look forward to this early measurement of where we are as a team against the top ranked team in our conference.

Go Whitman!
-Coach Hein

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day from WC Tennis

It turns out that Mother Nature was everyone's valentine in Walla Walla this year. Yesterday we were treated to a sunny,warm February day and played back to back matches on our outdoor courts in the middle of campus.

In the first match, the team displayed our depth and poise in knocking off PLU 9-0. What was most impressive to me was the focus and composure throughout the match from everyone wearing a Whitman uniform.

In the afternoon match, we played LCSC, a very talented team from Lewiston, ID. LCSC brought plenty of players and everyone was able to get a match in. The level of play on each doubles court was high, and at #1 and #2, we fell 8-4 and 8-2 as LCSC stepped up at all the right moments, but we felt like the scores could have easily been flipped. In the #3 and #4 doubles both Kate/Charlotte and Dena/Lauren jumped ahead and held on to win 8-5 and 8-6 with great teamwork and communication.

In singles, we had a rough time at 4-8 on the scoresheet, but battled all the way enjoying the high level of tennis. The #3 match was close throughout two sets and went to a match break, which Div won with tremendous point building and strong finishing. The match of the day was a baseline slugfest at #1 with Alyssa hitting her stride in the first set against a very smart and talented player to win 6-4. The second was also tight and down 2-3 with her opponent serving, Alyssa battled through the longest game of the match with incredible long points and more deuces than I could count before earning the break through some inspired shotmaking. That game took its toll as she was broken right back. At 3-4, with both teams cheering under the lights, Alyssa re-focused and steadily fought through the final 3 games to win 6-4.

The overall score of 3-6 was an improvement from last year and a great learning experience and to be this proud of not only how well we played but also of our team unity this early on in the season is amazing.

It was an emotional day for all Whitties, and everyone supported each other tremendously well.

Enjoy your valentines day and the three day weekend if you have it.

-Coach Hein

Friday, February 12, 2010

Great start to the Season

We had a wonderful start to our season tonight. After a long wait in which the team did a terrific job working hard and coming together as a group, we came off the court with a 9-0 win over University of Puget Sound. Often in tennis you hear that the match was closer than the score indicates. In this case that was both true and untrue. The teams were closer as UPS played very good tennis up and down the lineup with better depth than last season, but our players all stepped up to earn each match.

Upperclassmen Elise and Div led the way at #1 doubles beating a seasoned team of Sam Taylor and Maddie Holtz 8-2. Emily and Kate at #3 followed by the same score and Hadley and Alyssa at #2 finished very strong with an 8-3 win.

In singles, Elise was again the first off, followed closely by Div. This was great tennis and very good match management from both Whitties as they fought through many close games and each stepped up at the right times. Hadley followed suit and built more and more momentum as the match went on. Kate K-P stepped up in her first college singles match and fought well to earn her first victory, as did Lauren in the exhibition match.

The real treat was from our sophomores, with Charlotte demonstrating the poise and improvement she's shown in practice with a straight set win. And finally, there was Emily. After playing an outstanding doubles match, she ran into a very tough UPS player in Ada Yu. Em bounced back after dropping serve to end the first set 5-7 to storm through the second 6-2 and go up 5-2 in the third. At this point everyone was watching and you wouldn't have known that the match was already decided or that this was #4 because both players saved their best tennis for last and after two very hard fought games to 5-4, the match was on Emily's racket. She did not disappoint and hit huge serves and big groundstrokes to hold and take the match 6-4 in the third.

It was so much fun to have Annie Kunkel, the Rolstons, Alum Alex Robinson and the rest of the Whitman fans supporting us and we're fired up for tomorrows double header with PLU at 11am followed by LCSC.

Here are today's match scores
#1 Elise Otto and Divneet Kaur (WC) def. Sam Taylor and Madison Holtz (UPS) 8-2
#2 Hadley DeBree and Alyssa Roberg (WC) def. Ada Yu and Maddie Thiesse (UPS) 8-3
#3 Emily Rolston and Kate Kunkel-Patterson (WC) def. Katie Hurley and Ashley Dombrow (UPS) 8-2

#1 Otto def Taylor 6-0,6-1
#2 DeBree def Holtz 6-1,6-0
#3 Kaur def Thiesse 6-0,6-1
#4 Rolston def Yu 5-7, 6-2,6-4
#5 Kunkel-Patterson def Devin Fields 6-2,6-0
#6 Charlotte Scott def Dombrow 6-0,6-2
#7 (exhibition) Lauren Olson def Hurley 8-4

Monday, February 8, 2010

Ready Set GO!

Hello all,

After a very productive training period, the Whitman Women are ready to start the season this weekend. The team has worked very hard to be match ready and we start right away with Northwest Conference foes University or Puget Sound and Pacific Lutheran University this Friday and Saturday. It is a big weekend for Whitman athletics as Winter and Spring sports overlap and we'll do our part to bring excitement to campus in the form of great tennis. Following Saturday's conference match vs. PLU we take on Lewis-Clark State College (ID). LCSC ended last season ranked #20 nationally in NAIA.

If you are in Walla Walla, please join us for some great tennis to kick off the season. Here is the weekend's schedule.

Fri 5pm Whitman vs. UPS
Sat 11am Whitman vs. PLU
Sat 3:30pm Whitman vs. LCSC

Monday, February 1, 2010

Whitman Women Support Men in Huge Match

This past weekend was a treat for me to have my former coach and team on campus to play our men's team. Whitman gave the defending national champion Slugs a great match. Watching you wouldn't have known it was an 8-1 Santa Cruz win with the level of play, how close the matches were and the intensity of the players. I was so proud of how intensely both teams played this early season match.

We did our part by cheering our men to the final ball as the Bratton Tennis Center was rocking with positive support for the men's team. As if we weren't eager enough to start the season, the competitive juices are now flowing and we're ready for our turn on court in two weeks when we start the season with UPS at home on 2/12 at 5pm and a double header on 2/13 against PLU and Lewis Clark State College (ID).