SPOKANE, Wash. – A strong combination of talented returnees and incoming players will make Whitworth a contender for its fourth straight Northwest Conference women's tennis championship in 2012.
The Pirates' season kicks off on Saturday with a pair of non-conference matches at Lewis-Clark State College.
No matter what happens this season, head coach Jo Ann Wagstaff believes that this group of seniors has established a legacy that will not be forgotten.
"Since we hadn't won two championships in a row until two years ago, they would only be adding to an already huge accomplishment," Wagstaff said of her senior class, which includes five of the nine players on the roster.
Alli Marshall and Erica Bosman are two of the seniors who have made important impacts throughout their careers. Marshall posted a 13-7 singles record last year, mostly at #2 on the ladder. She was 8-4 in NWC dual matches. Bosman dominated at #3 singles with an overall record of 18-2, 12-0 versus the NWC.
Siri Carlson and Claire Hemming moved into starting roles last season as juniors, with singles records of 9-2 and 8-2, respectively. Janell Talbot (Lum) has provided important depth throughout her time on the team.
Megan Wingfield also returns as a starter. She was 10-3 last season in singles, all at #5 on the ladder.
Whitworth will have to overcome the graduation of 2011 NWC Player of the Year Rachel Burns. But Wagstaff believes this team has the talent and depth to do that.
"After a year with no new team members, it is refreshing to have some new faces in the mix," Wagstaff said. "We have a good combination of senior leadership and accomplished newcomers who make us as strong and deep as we ever were."
Spots on the singles ladder are still to be determined, but it is a good bet that either Bosman or Marshall will begin the year at #1 and #2, though which is which is still to be determined. Steele should begin the season at #3 and the rest of the spots will be figured out by the time Whitworth opens Northwest Conference action at the end of the month at Puget Sound and Pacific Lutheran.