WALLA WALLA, Wash. – UC-Santa Cruz ranked just one position higher than Linfield in the preseason regional rankings, but the Banana Slugs demonstrated some serious superiority over the Wildcats with a dominant 9-0 neutral-court victory Friday morning at Whitman’s Bratton Indoor Tennis Center.
UC-Santa Cruz jumped on Linfield early, rolling through all three doubles flights with ease. The closest the Wildcats came to a victory was at No. 1 doubles, where Alexandra Scotten and Laura Wade downed Lexi Thomas (Sr., Redding, Calif.) and Caroline Brigham (Jr., Eagle, Idaho) by a score of 8-4.
“We came out flat in doubles and that hurt us,” said head coach Amy Dames Smith.
The two remaining doubles flights also produced wins for the Banana Slugs. Arian Mokhtari and Mary Collins topped Kaila Nip (Soph., Lahaina, Hawaii) and Kelly Watanabe (Soph., Kirkland, Wash.) 8-2 while Courtney Lymburner and Monika Prokes turned away Gretchen Jernstedt (Soph., Wilsonville, Ore.) and Emily Erbin (Fr., West Linn, Ore.) 8-1.
Although UC-Santa Cruz also swept singles play, the results did not come without some drama. At No. 1 singles, Linfield’s Thomas took the first set before Mokhtari rallied for the 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 win. Scotten and Brigham battled to a super tiebreaker in the second singles flight, which Scotten claimed by a score of 6-7 (5-7), 7-6 (10-8), 1-0 (10-1).
“We fought hard in singles,” Dames Smith said, “so we’re taking that mentality and lessons learned today into our match tomorrow.”
Wade picked up the 6-2, 6-4 victory over Nip at No. 3 singles while Lymburner defeated Watanabe 6-1, 6-3. Collins cruised to a 6-0, 6-1 decision over Jernstedt and Suzanne Lipscomb wrapped up singles action with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Erbin.
The Banana Slugs were ranked as the seventh-best club in the West according to a preseason poll released in November 1, with the Wildcats one place back in eighth.
COMING UP: Saturday’s contest is another tough one, as the Wildcats take on host Whitman, 5-4 winners over UC-Santa Cruz on Thursday, beginning at 10 a.m. Last season, Linfield twice defeated the Missionaries during the regular season before Whitman won the Northwest Conference tournament championship to advance to the NCAA playoffs.
Amy Dames Smith
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