February 24, 2013

Wildcats Edge Road-Weary Pirates

McMINNVILLE, Ore. – The long three-match road swing finally caught up with the Whitworth women's tennis team on Sunday morning as the Pirates dropped a heartbreaking 5-4 decision at defending Northwest Conference champion Linfield.

The Pirates are now 3-3 overall and 3-2 in the NWC while the Wildcats improve to 2-4, 2-2.

Linfield took a quick 2-0 lead in doubles.  Caroline Brigham and Kwynn Ecton swept Whitworth's Jesse Steele and Annika Westre 8-0.  Soon after Kaila Nip and Kelly Watanabe defeated Morgan McDivitt and Megan Wingfield 8-3 at #3.

But Whitworth's #1 team of Saryn Mooney and Taylor Peña pulled out a marathon victory over Gretchen Jernstedt and Lexi Thomas 9-8 (12-10) to pull the Pirates within 2-1.

With all six singles matches occurring simultaneously, the drama steadily built throughout the competition.  Linfield extended its lead to 4-1 when Nip beat Peña 6-0, 6-1 at #3 singles and Brigham topped Steele 6-2, 6-3 at #2.

But the Pirates pulled within 4-3.  Wingfield topped Ecton 6-2, 6-3 at #4 and McDivitt beat Jernstedt 6-3, 6-3 at #6.

That left two final matches headed to dramatic third sets.  Watanabe clinched the team win for Linfield when she came back on Caylee Lamm 4-6, 6-1, 6-0 at #5.  Finally Mooney edged Thomas 7-6 (7-5), 3-6, 7-6 (7-3) at #1 singles.

After playing three matches in two-and-a-half days on the road, the Pirates will feel like they are on vacation next weekend when they host league-leading Whitman next Saturday in their only match of the week.

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