Wildcats’ hunt fails in nonconference matches

The Wildcat women’s tennis team traveled to California on March 9 and 10 and lost 8-1 to the University of La Verne and 9-0 to the No. 18 team in the country, the University of the South.

The Wildcat losses dropped their season record to 4-6, and they are still searching for their first nonconference victory of the season.

Sophomore Kelly Watanabe was responsible for the lone victory of the weekend, beating La Verne’s No. 5 6-3, 6-3. With the win, Watanabe stretched her individual win streak to five matches.

When asked about her string of victories, Watanabe said, “I think building confidence and being more patient during each point has helped me improve this season. The support from my coaches and teammates has helped a lot as well.”

No other Linfield player took a set from La Verne, but sophomores Kaila Nip and Gretchen Jernstedt and freshman Kwynn Ecton played competitive matches.

Nip lost to La Verne’s Laina Matsuda and Ecton lost to La Verne’s Brooke Hines by the same score of 6-4, 6-3. Jernstedt lost to La Verne’s Shenelle Trujillo 7-5, 6-4.

The overall loss snapped the Wildcats’ four-game winning streak, and La Verne improved their record to 6-1 with the victory.

The game on March 10 against the University of the South was a 9-0 loss for the Wildcats, but the No. 2 and 3 doubles matches were neck-and-neck. The tandem of junior Caroline Brigham and Ecton fell to Sewanee’s No. 2 combo by a score of 9-7. The No. 3 matchup featured Watanabe and Nip for Linfield, but they couldn’t quite pull out the victory, falling 8-6.

The singles matches were dominated by Sewanee. They didn’t drop a set and only dropped 15 games total. The most promising set came from Ecton against Sewanee’s Anne Garland. After losing her first set 6-0, Ecton lost her second set 6-4.

The two losses during the weekend drop Linfield’s record outside of the NWC to 0-3 with just one nonconference game remaining—California Lutheran University plays Linfield on March 23 in Portland.

Linfield will use this weekend as a lesson for the rest of the year as it aims to succeed in the NWC.

“Our goals are to make it to the conference tournament and always have a strong performance in doubles…we need to bring a lot of energy and keep it through the entire match,” Watanabe said.

Linfield’s tennis team resumes NWC play March 15 at Puget Sound University. Puget Sound is 4-3 in the NWC and sits a half game behind Linfield’s 4-2 NWC record.

Tyler Bradley

Sports columnist

Tyler Bradley can be reached at