October 24, 2011

Rookies Shine at Ducks Invitational

Freshman Moira Hedberg advances to semifinals of both singles and doubles main draw

The future certainly looks bright for the Eastern Washington University women's tennis team.

This past weekend, the Eagles competed at the Ducks Invitational in Eugene, Ore. Highlighting Eastern's many notable performances at the event was the play of its rookie members.

In singles action, freshman Moira Hedberg won three-consecutive matches to advance to the semifinals of the main draw. The Oxnard, Calif., native opened the tournament with an exciting three-set (6-1, 2-6, 6-3) victory over New Mexico's Michaela Oldani. She then took down Tahila Smoke of Air Force in straight sets, 6-4, 6-4, before dominating her quarterfinal matchup against Lana Buttner from host-Oregon with a 6-2, 6-0 decision.

In the semifinals, Hedberg was pitted against another Duck in Haley Driver. Driver managed to upend Hedberg, 6-3, 6-3, en route to capturing the singles title at her home event.

"Moira played with a lot of confidence this weekend," said EWU associate head coach Mykala Hedberg. "She had some tough matches, but really did well to keep a level head and just focus on playing her game. She didn't let herself get riled up from the environment and level of competition. She was listening on the court, and really maintained composure. This was a great tournament, and it was an awesome performance for her to build upon as we head to San Diego in a couple weeks."

Hedberg saw similar success in doubles action, with the help of fellow freshman, Chrissy Uriarte. The Eagle duo won back-to-back matches against New Mexico and Oregon to advance to the semifinal round of the main doubles draw. Hedberg and Uriarte won both matches by a score of 8-2. The pair eventually bowed out in the semis, but not before putting up a respectable fight against the eventual champions from Air Force.

"Chrissy and Moira really complement each other well on the court," said Hedberg. "They do a great job of communicating and working together as a team. I think that has to do with the fact that they get along well off the court as well. They went out this weekend and played like they weren't freshmen. They weren't afraid to step up against teams that may have had more experience. They wanted to prove they belonged there."

Uriarte also won her first singles match in the main draw against New Mexico's Katie Wookey, 7-5, 6-1. After falling to the eventual singles champion, Haley Driver, in the round of 16, Uriarte played in a consolation bracket, where she beat another Lobo in straight sets, 6-4, 6-2.

Juniors Chelsea Patton and Ryann Warner also had impressive runs in the consolation brackets, as each player advanced to the finals of their respective draw.

After losing her opening match of the tourney, Patton won the next three in a row, which included an inspiring three-set victory over Hannah Dake from Air Force. Patton edged Dake in the first set, 7-6 (9-7), but fell in the second 3-6. In the decisive matchbreaker, Patton outlasted her opponent, 10-5. Prior to that semifinal victory against Dake, Patton had defeated Portland's Emily Mahairas and Oregon's Lena Macomson in straight sets.

Warner dominated the first two rounds of her consolation bracket, as she topped UNM's Oldani, 6-1, 6-1, and Portland's Mahairas, 6-0, 6-0.

"There were some matches that didn't go so well in the beginning, but a few of the girls really turned it around as the tournament went on," said Hedberg. "I was really happy to see Chelsea and Ryann both end on a good note."

Another Eagle freshman, Kristen Hibbs, earned a victory in the opening round of the main draw, as she bested Alyssa Caffey from Air Force, 6-4, 6-4. Patton and sophomore Kelsey Knight also won their first match in doubles action, outlasting Portland State's Govi and Pellicano, 9-7.

"As a team, we definitely progressed from where we were in our last tournament," applauded Hedberg. "Our doubles teams were communicating a lot better, and you could tell they were more comfortable with one another on the court. In singles, the girls were fighting and competing hard. A lot of the matches that we did lose were very close."

Eastern will have a few weeks off from competition before wrapping up the fall season at the San Diego State Fall Classic Nov. 11-13.

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