Eastern exhibits poise and perseverance with victories in both three-set matches against Pilots
In its final two outings before conference play begins, the Eastern Washington University women's tennis team came up just short against the Pilots of the University of Portland and the Idaho Vandals.
The Eagles played their closest match ever with the Pilots, falling 4-3 on Friday evening at the Columbia Basin Racquet Club in Richland, Wash. Eastern returned home on Sunday to face Idaho, who defeated Eastern, 7-0 at the Jim Thorpe Fieldhouse in Cheney, Wash.
Although Eastern was not able to gut out the win against UP, the team had much to be proud of, including three impressive victories in singles play.
The Pilots took an early 1-0 lead after sweeping the doubles matches. UP's Valeska Hoath earned the first singles point for the Pilots when she defeated junior Nefeli Diamanti at No. 5, 6-0, 6-0.
Freshman Helon Ricks nabbed Eastern's first point after she made quick work of UP's Beate Valdmane at No. 6 singles, 6-1, 6-1.
"Helon just dominated at No. 6 singles," applauded EWU associate head coach Dale Silha. "She was aggressive and smart on the court, and was rewarded with a great win."
Portland was able to clinch the match with victories at No. 1 and No. 2 singles, but the Eagles won the final two matchups at No. 3 and No. 4.
Junior Caitlin Bampton, playing at No. 3 singles, earned an early advantage on UP's Alice Tucker after winning a tiebreaker in the first set, 7-6 (7-5). She lost the second set, 6-1, but then finished it off in the third with a 6-3 decision.
At No. 4 singles, sophomore Chelsea Patton was in the hole early after falling to Stephanie Fuchs in the first set, 6-1. Patton evened the score with a 6-3 victory in the second, and then followed that up with a convincing 6-2 win in the third.
"Our girls showed a lot of fight against Portland," said Silha. "Winning both of the three-set battles was huge for our team. Usually, if you can win those consistently, you will win the match. We weren't able to do that on Friday, but I was quite proud of their efforts."
In Eastern's second match of the weekend, the team was swept by a powerful Vandal squad. The Eagles did record one win, though, as Patton and Bampton topped Idaho's Molly Knox and Yvette Ly at No. 2 doubles, 8-6.
EWU came very close to capturing the doubles point with another victory at No. 3, but Idaho's Alejandra Lozano and Barbara Maciocha managed to edge the Eagle pair of Ricks and sophomore Ryann Warner, 9-7.
In singles play, Bampton and Diamanti each took a set from their opponent, but couldn't outlast them in the third-set tiebreakers. Bampton, playing at No. 3, lost to Silvia Irimescu, 6-3, 1-6, 1-0 (10-7), while Diamanti fell to Lozano, 7-5, 1-6, 1-0 (10-3).