Both tennis teams’ strong seasons heartbreakingly came to an end last weekend.
The men fell in the Northwest Conference semifinals to Willamette University, 3-5, on April 16. The loss dropped the men’s final record to 13-7.
Willamete sophomore Cody Ferguson and freshman Joshua Wong forced a tiebreaker at No. 1 doubles before winning 9-8 over the Wildcats’ leading duo of juniors Mark Magdaong and Brent Kingzett, which proved to be the difference in the match. Magdaong, senior Matt Levering and sophomore Cody Levien won their respective singles matches, but Willamette’s wins at No. 2, 3 and 4 singles sealed the match in the Bearcats’ favor.
“Even though we didn’t reach our ultimate goal of making and winning the conference final, we still had the best season we have had in my time here and had a blast doing it,” senior Tal Edman said. “We not only improved on last season, but we did it through hard work, confidence and trust in our teammates.”
As good as this season was, next year should be promising, Edman said.
“Next season should be solid,” he said. “We have a deep team ready to step up. This is a team that will be ready to again challenge for the NWC crown.”
The women’s team suffered a fate similar to the men’s. The Wildcats dropped a close match to Whitman College, 5-4, in the conference semifinals April 16 and 5-4 to Lewis & Clark College in the consolation final April 17. The two losses gave the team a final record of 15-6.
Whitman freshman Kate Kunkel-Patterson outlasted junior Sarah Wantanabe 1-6, 6-4, 6-2 at No. 6 to complete the upset of the second-seeded Wildcats on April 16.
Linfield juniors Sarah Click and Sophie Larson prevailed 8-5 over Whitman seniors Divneet Kaur and Hadley DeBree at No. 2. Larson paired with sophomore Kirstie Franceschina to pull out a nail-biting 9-8 (7-3) win against Kunkel-Patterson and sophomore Emily Rolston.
Linfield competed without senior Sallie Katter on April 17. Her absence caused a shuffling of the lineup, affecting all three doubles pairings.
At No. 1 doubles, sophomore Abby Olbrich teamed up with Click for a win against Lewis & Clark junior Lisa Harunaga and freshman Isabelle Borris.
Franceschina and Wantanabe recorded a victory, as well, against Lewis & Clark junior Whitney DeBree and sophomore Jill Coleman.
The Pioneers captured the third doubles match with junior Maggie Peach and freshman Marcrina Sharpe defeating freshmen Gill Heilbrunn and Cali Hislop.
In singles, Olbrich prevailed 6-4, 6-3 over Harunaga, and Click was a 6-3, 6-2 winner over DeBree. Lewis & Clark won the remaining four singles matchups to clinch the match in its favor.
Despite the heartbreaking finish, the Wildcats played a great season, assistant coach Amy Dames Smith said.
“This season was a success,” Smith said. “We had two players, Abby Olbrich and Sallie Katter, earn All-American honors in the fall, and they placed fifth in the nation at the National Small College Championships. We finished second in the NWC, beat the 2009 and 2010 NWC champion Whitworth in regular season play and saw outstanding performances and growth from every member of the team throughout the season.”
The women’s team looks to build upon this successful season with hard work next year.
“The NWC is consistently toughening up in women’s tennis, and that spurs us on,” Smith said.
Sports reporterJustin Derby can be reached at email@example.com