Linfield's season ends against Whitman
Courtesy of Linfield sports information
WALLA WALLA, Wash. – A popular sports mantra states it is hard to beat a team three times in a season, but Whitman completed the feat, defeating Linfield 5-0 in the championship match of the Northwest Conference Tournament Saturday afternoon on its home courts.
The Missionaries (16-9) completed a perfect record against league opponents, including three victories against the Wildcats (13-4), to earn the conference's automatic berth in the NCAA playoffs. Whitman quickly reached the five points necessary to win the match, but Linfield gave the defending regular season and tournament champion all it could handle.
“We were impressed by our players' willingness to compete and fight for every point today. We went down fighting,” said head coach Lisa Macy-Baker. “We talk a lot about putting everything on the line and improving every match. That's what gave us the shot at the championship.”
Kaila Nip and Kelly Watanabe kept things close against Erin Bell and Katrina Allick at No. 2 doubles, 2-1, before the Missionary tandem rattled off six straight wins to earn Whitman its first point of the day, 8-1.
Courtney Lawless – the NWC Player of the Year – and Maddy Webster topped Caroline Brigham and Mackenzie Fraaser 8-4 in top-flight doubles to ensure the Missionaries had the advantage headed into singles, but Linfield's No. 3 duo ensured the clean sweep would not be easy. Gretchen Jernstedt and Courtney Mostul went up 3-1 in the tiebreak set against Jenna Dobrin and Hannah Palkowitz, but Whitman rallied for the 9-8 (7-4) victory.
In the only two singles matches to be completed before the Missionaries scored the decisive fifth point, Allick handed Fraser her first loss of the year at No. 6 singles by a count of 6-3, 6-0 and Allie Wallin defeated Kume – who clinched the semifinal match for the Wildcats the previous day – in fourth-flight singles, 6-2, 6-0.
Linfield 5, Whitworth 3
WALLA WALLA, Wash. – For the second time in three years, Linfield and Whitman square off in the championship match of the Northwest Conference Women's Tennis Tournament after the Wildcats staged a 5-3 comeback victory over Whitworth in the second semifinal match Saturday evening at Whitman's outdoor tennis courts.
With Linfield and Whitworth splitting the regular season matches at their respective home courts, all signs pointed to a close semifinal bout. Playing under the lights in front of a large crowd, the teams did not disappoint.
The third-seeded Wildcats dug themselves a 2-1 hole after doubles. But Linfield pocketed two quick points at Nos. 1 and 6 singles, took the lead with another victory at No. 2 singles and clinched the match when freshman Marisa Kume outlasted Annabelle Burns in a three-set barnburner in the fourth flight.
Kume won the opening set 6-4 and Burns responded with a 3-6 second-set victory to knot things up in the decisive match. Kume got out to 4-1 and 5-1 leads before securing the individual and team wins with a 6-2 third-set victory.
Brigham, Nip honored by NWC
For the second straight season, two Wildcats have been named to the All-Northwest Conference Women's Tennis Team as senior Caroline Brigham and junior Kaila Nip were honored via a vote of the league's head coaches. The announcement came Friday afternoon, one day prior to Linfield's postseason tilt with Whitworth in the semifinals of the NWC Tournament.
Brigham was included on the all-star squad for a fourth straight season, including one honorable mention consideration, one second-team selection and back-to-back first team recognitions. The fourth-year player compiled a 10-5 record in No. 1 singles competition in 2014, including an 8-4 mark against conference opponents. She also teamed with Mackenzie Fraser for an 8-7 win-loss record at No. 1 doubles.
Nip earned second team honors for the second consecutive year after registering a 12-3 mark at No. 2 singles. She enjoyed an eight-match win streak and posted a 10-2 mark against league foes. Competing at No. 2 doubles, Nip and Kelly Watanabe went 10-4 on the year, including 7-4 in conference matches.