McMINNVILLE, Ore. – Perennial all-star Abby Olbrich reached another career milestone to help her Linfield women’s tennis team post its best start to league play in three seasons and take down defending Northwest Conference regular season champion Whitworth with a 7-2 victory over the Pirates Saturday afternoon at the Linfield Tennis Center.
At 9-0, the Wildcats have matched the season-opening record (in NWC matches only) of the 2009 squad, which finished second in the league. But more importantly, with only three NWC contests remaining on the schedule, including a rematch against Whitworth (7-2, 6-1 NWC) in early April, Linfield is in good position to host the conference tournament, a right reserved for the regular season champion.
Olbrich registered her 50th career singles win, taking down Alli Marshall in the top flight by a score of 6-3, 6-4. Caroline Brigham (Jr., Eagle, Idaho) defeated a regionally-ranked opponent for the first time this season, earning a 6-4, 6-2 victory over Erica Bosman.
The ever-consistent Nip sisters improved their singles records to 9-0 at Nos. 3 and 5 singles, respectively. In a freshman-versus-freshman showdown, Kaila defeated Whitworth’s Saryn Mooney 6-0, 6-4. Older sister Kiana, meanwhile, blanked her opponent, Megan Wingfield, at 6-0, 6-0.
The Pirates claimed victories in the fourth and sixth singles flights, but the effort was not enough to challenge the Wildcats, who swept through all three doubles matches for the third straight contest.
Nevertheless, Jessi Steele rallied for a 4-6, 6-2, 10-5 win over Lexi Thomas (Sr., Redding, Calif.) and teammate Claire Hemming dealt Kelly Watanabe (Soph., Kirkland, Wash.) her first collegiate loss by a score of 5-7, 7-6 (5), 10-5.
At No. 1 doubles, Olbrich and Brigham defeated Marshall and Bosman 8-1. Kaila Nip (Soph., Lahaina, Hawaii) and Kiana Nip turned away Mooney and Steele at 8-3. Watanabe and Thomas had the toughest battle in doubles, but prevailed 8-5 over WIngfield and Hemming.
AHEAD: Linfield tries to take down Division I opponent Portland State in a nonconference match Sunday afternoon. Match time is scheduled for noon at Club Green Meadows in Vancouver, Wash.
Earns seventh doubles victory
Wildcats display growth, perseverance through strong finish
Brigham and Nip voted to all-NWC squad
Whitman bounces Linfield in NWC semifinal
Wildcats enter NWC Tournament as fourth seed
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