WALLA WALLA, Wash. – In the only regular-season matchup between the two rival clubs, host Whitman easily downed visiting Linfield 8-1 in Northwest Conference women’s tennis action Saturday morning inside the Bratton Indoor Tennis Center.
Gretchen Jernstedt (Soph., Wilsonville, Ore.) pulled out the lone victory on the day for the Wildcats. The sophomore, playing in just her fourth career varsity match, split the first two sets with Maddy Webster before outlasting her Whitman counterpart in a doozy of a third set, winning 6-3, 3-6, 14-12.
Caroline Brigham (Jr., Eagle, Idaho) also went to three sets, her battle waged against Alyssa Roberg, but fell to Roberg by a final count of 2-6, 6-2, 6-0.
Twins Courtney and Morgan Lawless won at No. 1 and No. 3 singles for the Missionaries, topping Lexi Thomas (Sr., Redding, Calif.) 6-1, 6-1 and Kaila Nip (Soph., Lahaina, Hawaii) 6-3, 6-0, respectively.
Jenna Dobrin, a 6-0, 6-1 winner over Kelly Watanabe (Soph., Kirkland, Wash.), and Kate Kunkel-Patterson, who defeated Emily Erbin (Fr., West Linn, Ore.) 6-1, 6-2, rounded out singles action.
Earlier in the day, Courtney Lawless and Roberg combined for an 8-4 victory over Brigham and Thomas in the top singles flight. At No. 2 doubles, Morgan Lawless and Dobrin handed Nip and Watanabe an 8-2 loss, while Katrina Allick and Kate Rubinstien made a clean sweep for Whitman with their 8-3 win over Jernstedt and Erbin.
The Missionaries, ranked 29th in the preseason poll released by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, improved to 3-1 on the year and picked up their first NWC victory in as many tries.
Linfield remained winless with a 0-3 overall record, including a season-opening loss to Division I Portland State.
Saturday’s contest was a rematch of the 2012 Northwest Conference tournament championship match, won by the Missionaries by a score of 5-1. The Wildcats had won both regular-season competitions with a combined mark of 11-7. This season, the two teams face each other just once as part of the league’s “round robin and a half” schedule.
“Whitman is tough,” said head coach Amy Dames Smith. “Though we fought hard, Whitman was just a better team than us today.”
AHEAD: Linfield returns to McMinnville for the first of three straight Northwest Conference matches on its home courts, beginning with Pacific Lutheran Friday at 3:30 p.m.
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