McMINNVILLE, Ore. – Taking care of business early on in doubles play just as they have all season, the Wildcats rolled to a 5-0 victory over Willamette in the first semifinal match of the Northwest Conference women’s tennis tournament on a warm and sunny Saturday afternoon at the Linfield Tennis Center.
Abby Olbrich and Caroline Brigham avenged their only NWC doubles defeat of the season, turning the tables on Sabrina Gutierrez and Shannon Palmer of Willamette by a score of 8-5.
The No. 1 tandem led the Wildcats to a sweep in doubles action, leaving the ‘Cats needing just two singles victories to seal the deal and land a spot in Sunday’s championship match.
It was again Olbrich and Brigham who came through in singles, as the two won their respective matches in straight sets. Olbrich downed Palmer 6-0, 6-3 while Brigham dropped Gutierrez by a count of 6-3, 6-1.
The four remaining singles flights were left unfinished.
In other doubles action, sisters Kaila Nip (Sr., Lahaina, Hawaii) and Kiana Nip blasted Emily Bee and Denise Poltavski 8-3 at No. 2 doubles while Lexi Thomas and Kelly Watanabe (Sr., Kirkland, Wash.) finished Elise Derby and Emily Funabiki by a score of 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,” said head coach Amy Dames Smith. “It was a good team effort.
“Willamette put up a good fight, but we were able to play some smart and efficient tennis. Teamwork and efficiency definitely helped us out.”
With a second consecutive trip to the NCAA Division III Women’s Tennis Championship on the line, the team’s mindset remains the same as it has been all year.
“It’s just what we’ve been doing all season,” Dames Smith said, “relying on our athletic ability, our ability to fight and to compete, and also relying on our depth.”
‘CAT SCRATCH: Olbrich took over sole possession of sixth place in the Linfield record books for all-times singles victories with 54 wins over her four-year career…she is tied for the fifth-most doubles victories (56) with former doubles partner Sallie Katter.
NEXT: Linfield (13-4, 13-0 NWC) faces off against Whitman (16-4, 11-2 NWC) in the title match of the tournament Sunday morning beginning at 10 a.m. The Wildcats won both meetings between the two clubs this year, by the scores of 6-3 and 5-4.