The women’s tennis team traveled to Spokane, Wash., and finished the Northwest Conference season on top during the conference championships April 16 and 17 at Whitworth University.
Although the women had lost one match to Whitworth on March 11, the women prevailed during the championship and defeated the Pirates. The team dominated and came out in first place. The win automatically advances the ’Cats to the NCAA Division III Regional tournament.
The women won the match against the Pirates, 5-3, during the championship. Junior Abby Olbrich took the win in the No. 1 singles flight against the NWC Player of the Year, Whitworth senior Rachel Burns.
Senior Sarah Click also won in the No. 5 singles flight and clinched the conference win, which allowed senior Sarah Watanabe’s match to remain unfinished.
“It felt great to be able to cinch the conference win. But to be honest, it was a team effort, and I wouldn’t have even gotten that chance had it not been for the earlier hard work by the top four singles players,” Click said in an email. “Their flight set me up to be in that position, as did Sarah [Watanabe], who was right next to me winning her match as well.”
Although her match ended early, Watanabe said she was excited for the team’s win.
“The tournament rule was play until the match was decided so I had to accept that,” Watanabe said in an email. “Obviously, I would have liked to have contributed a win against Whitworth by winning singles, but I was very proud when we won.”
Senior Sophie Larson won the No. 2 singles spot and freshman Caroline Brigham took the No. 4 position. Olbrich and Click made up the only Linfield doubles team that won.
“We focused on beating Whitman before taking down Whitworth. It really was one match at a time. We have known all along that we could beat them because we are a stronger team,” Watanabe said in an email.
Click agreed with Watanabe about beating Whitworth.
“I knew going in to the conference tournament that we were going to compete well with Whitworth for the top spot. They are a tough team, especially in singles, but there wasn’t a singles or doubles matchup that we couldn’t win,” she said in an email. “This weekend was an excellent opportunity to show that we weren’t going home without a fight.”
Linfield will compete next in the NCAA Division III Regionals on May 13-15. The time, place and opponent are to be determined.
Corrina Crocker/Sports editor
Corrina Crocker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.