SALEM, Ore. – Despite dropping points at No. 1 singles and doubles, Linfield rolled to its fourth straight women's tennis victory by virtue of a 7-2 win over Willamette Saturday afternoon at the Courthouse Tennis Club.
Since losing their first four matches of the year, the Wildcats (4-4, 4-2) have reversed course and won four in a row, all against Northwest Conference opponents, by a combined score of 27-9. The Bearcats, meanwhile, remain winless on the year with a 0-7 overall record, including six losses to league foes.
Quality doubles play has been key to Linfield’s hot streak, and against Willamette it was no different; the Wildcats staked a 2-1 lead with a pair of victories in the middle and third flights.
The No. 1 match, however, belonged to Willamette’s Sabrina Gutierrez and Denise Poltavski, who downed Gretchen Jernstedt (Soph., Wilsonville, Ore.) and Lexi Thomas (Sr., Redding, Calif.) by a count of 8-4.
Caroline Brigham (Jr., Eagle, Idaho) and Kwynn Ecton (Fr., Fort Collins, Colo.) scored an 8-4 victory over Rachel Heringer and Stephanie Matsuura in the second flight. Kaila Nip (Soph., Lahaina, Hawaii) and Kelly Watanabe (Soph., Kirkland, Wash.) helped the Wildcats gain the advantage with their easy 8-0 decision over Mandy Carlson and Emily Guimont.
“We fought hard in all three doubles matches and played with strong energy, which has been an emphasis this season,” said head coach Amy Dames Smith.
Willamette earned another point at the top of the singles ladder, but Linfield’s depth won out as the ‘Cats took the remaining five flights in straight sets.
“Consistent singles play was led by Kelly and Gretchen, who played with great poise and strength,” Dames Smith said.
Watanabe and Jernstedt won their respective flights, Nos. 5 and 6 singles, with mirroring 6-1, 6-1 scores. Watanabe handed Guimont the loss while Jernstedt turned away Carlson.
After blanking her opponent in the opening set, Brigham had a battle on her hands in the second frame at No. 2 doubles before she finally put away Gutierrez by a score of 6-0, 7-5. Nip picked up the 6-2, 6-1 win over Heringer in the third flight while Ecton came away with a relatively close 6-3, 6-4 victory over Matsuura at No. 4 singles.
Poltavski earned a point for the Bearcats at the marquee No. 1 singles match, dispatching Thomas 6-3, 6-2.
COMING UP: The Wildcats are bound for warmer weather for a pair of nonconference matches in southern California. Linfield plays La Verne next Saturday, March 9 and takes on Sewanee: The University of the South the following day. Match times are set for 3 p.m. and 10 a.m., respectively.
Winner at No. 3 singles and doubles
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