The Wildcats women’s tennis team’s exceptional season has come to a disappointing end.
The Wildcats faced off against Willamette University for the Northwest Conference semi-finals April 21.
The Wildcats fought hard to take a 5-0 victory.
Starting off strong, the ‘Cats won all three doubles matches.
In No. 1 doubles, senior Abby Olbrich and sophomore Caroline Brigham won, 8-5, over Willamette’s Sabrina Gutierrez and Shannon Palmer.
Senior Kiana Nip and freshman Kaila Nip won 8-3 at No. 2 doubles, while junior Lexi Thomas and freshman Kelly Watanabe, at No. 3, finished 8-5.
“It’s always nice to be able to win at 1, 2 and 3 doubles because that just gives you a lot of momentum going into singles and takes some of the pressure off,” Head Coach Amy Smith said.
Olbrich and Brigham also played well in singles; Oblrich defeated Palmer 6-0, 6-3, and Brigham beat Guitierrez 6-3, 6-1.
The Wildcats faced the Whitman Missionaries for the NWC Championship on April 22.
The Missionaries overwhelmed the ‘Cats with a 5-1 win.
“We weren’t at full strength today, but the girls fought really hard,” Smith said. “I’m proud of their effort.”
The Wildcats’ lone point came from Thomas and Watanabe at No. 3 doubles. The pair earned an 8-5 victory over the Missionaries’ Maddy Webster and Hannah Palkowitz.
The singles ended with three losses and three unfinished matches. Brigham, Thomas and freshman Gretchen Jernstedt lost their singles matches.
The Wildcats ended the season 13-1 in NWC standings.
Smith said she is proud of the team.
“They’ve done an excellent job of coming together. Even when the cards were seemingly stacked against them, they continued to fight hard,” she said.
For next year, Smith said the team intends to pick up where it left off and continue to improve.
Two seniors, Kiana Nip and Olbrich, will be saying goodbye this year.
Olbrich is a finance major with an economics minor. She plans to continue playing tennis after college.
“I’d like to either play on a USTA team or just play in some local tournaments.”
Nip is an international business major with a Japanese minor. She also hopes to continue playing, but not competitively.
Nip has had the opportunity to play alongside her younger sister this year. Sunday’s match marked their only loss in doubles, making them 12-1 in league standings.
Both seniors have many fond memories with the team.
“Spending time with my teammates and making unforgettable friendships is something I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world,” Olbrich said.
“I’m proud of how we did this year. My best memories from Linfield are from this season,” Nip said.
Caleb Goad/Staff writer
Caleb Goad can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.