Eastern picks up first win of the season with dominant performance over Lewis-Clark State
The Eastern Washington University women’s tennis team played two more ranked teams over the weekend - one from the NCAA Division I ranks and the other, a top 10 team in the NAIA.
The Eagles fell to No. 35 Washington State, 7-0, on Saturday (Feb. 9) in Pullman, Wash., but rebounded with an impressive 5-2 victory over No. 7 Lewis-Clark State on Sunday (Feb. 10) in Lewiston, Idaho.
The win against LCSC was Eastern’s first of the 2103 campaign, as EWU now stands at 1-5 in dual matches.
The Eagles absolutely dominated doubles on Sunday, conceding just five total games in the three matches against the Warriors. Eastern’s No. 1 pair of sophomore Moira Hedberg and senior Chelsea Patton downed their opponents, 8-1, while EWU’s No. 2 and 3 pairs both won by a score of 8-2.
Enjoying the early 1-0 lead, EWU did not slow down, clinching the match with four quick victories in singles.
“In our meeting before the match, we talked about coming out with intensity and taking control from the start,” said EWU interim head coach Dustin Hinson. “LC is a really good team for the level they’re at, but we wanted a dominant performance today after having played such strong competition up to this point. I was super happy with our performance in doubles, and just really proud of the team for going in and taking care of business.”
Sophomore Chrissy Uriarte was the first Eagle to finish, as she swept her opponent at No. 3 singles, 6-0, 6-0. Senior Kelsey Knight also had a quick match at No. 4, besting LCSC’s Deanri Human, 6-0, 6-1.
Hedberg ended up clinching the match for EWU with her 6-2, 6-3 victory at No. 1, and senior Ryann Warner also won in straight sets at No. 6 with a 6-2, 6-0 decision.
Patton played a tough match at No. 2 singles, and was able to force three sets, but came up just short against Livia Blasque, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.
“Chelsea grinded like she always does and fought hard all the way through,” said Hinson. “There were a lot of long points and long rallies in that match, but she was playing against someone who just got everything back. That wears on you after awhile, but I know Chelsea was disappointed with the loss. She played really tough though.”
Fellow senior Rocio Norena also battled in her match at No. 5, but was edged by Rye Hewett, 7-5, 6-3.
Not only was the win against LCSC significant as the first one of the season for EWU, but it also kept alive a long-standing winning streak against the Warriors. Eastern has not lost to Lewis-Clark State since the 2002-03 season, winning nine-consecutive duals.
“It was a great feeling to go into a match and dominate,” said Hinson. “I think it gave the girls a lot of confidence heading into conference play, which is very important. I definitely feel like we’ve progressed with every match, and we are just excited to move into the part of our schedule with teams that we know we can compete against.”
On Saturday against WSU, the Eagles were slightly overmatched against the team ranked 35th in the nation, but EWU competed hard with the in-state rival.
At No. 1 singles, Hedberg was pitted against Liudmila Vasilieva for the second year in a row. Hedberg took 11 games off her opponent before eventually falling in a tiebreaker, 6-3, 7-6 (2). Vasilieva is currently ranked 13th in the Northwest region. Last year when the two players met, Hedberg lost 6-2, 6-0.
“I was really impressed to see Moira get to a second-set tiebreaker,” said Hinson. “She played the same girl last year and only won two games. That shows the work she has put in and the improvement, which is really encouraging for Moira.”
Although she did not come out on top, Uriarte was solid in her match at No. 3, improving in each game against Andjela Kankaras.
“I was really happy with Chrissy’s ability to adjust her game and do different things throughout the match,” said Hinson. “She dropped the first set 6-1, but was then able to change her game plan and figure out what was and wasn’t working against this opponent, and she had a lot more success in the second set. She was stepping into the net and putting away points. It was a very strong performance.”
Sophomore Alexis Filliol lost her match at No. 6, but not before taking six games off Dajana Ognjenovic. She battled Ognjenovic to a 6-4, 6-2 decision.
“Lexi played a really close match at No. 6,” said Hinson. “It was hard fought, and you can see that Lexi is finding rhythm with her strokes and building confidence.”
Eastern will play two conference matches on the road next weekend, starting with Idaho State on Friday (Feb. 15). EWU will then take on Weber State on Saturday (Feb. 16) to finish off an important weekend of Big Sky action. The Wildcats and Eagles garnered the same number of votes in the Big Sky preseason coaches’ poll at 44, while Idaho State came in just behind those two with 38.