Strong doubles play propels Eastern to big victories over Idaho State, Weber State
The Eastern Washington University women’s tennis team did not lose a single doubles match over the weekend and went 4-1 in tiebreakers to earn a sweep of its first road trip in 2013 Big Sky Conference play.
The Eagles defeated Idaho State, 5-2, on Friday (Feb. 15) in Pocatello, Idaho, before taking down Weber State by a score of 6-1 on Saturday (Feb. 16) in Ogden.
“There were a lot of close matches this weekend that could have gone either way,” said EWU interim head coach Dustin Hinson. “But we just fought for every point and took advantage of every opportunity to finish. It shows that what we’ve been working on - our confidence and match toughness - has really progressed. As a coach, you can’t ask for anything more. The attitudes were so positive all around. I am super proud of the girls.”
After dropping its first five contests of the season, four of which were against nationally-ranked opponents, Eastern is now on a three-match winning streak, and enjoying a winning 2-1 record in conference play.
Eastern got things started on Friday with its ninth-consecutive victory over the Bengals from Idaho State.
Eastern’s No. 1 doubles pair of sophomore Moira Hedberg and senior Chelsea Patton gave EWU some early momentum when they downed ISU’s Laura Theus and Wiebke Boeckmann, 8-3.
The Eagles then solidified the doubles point when sophomore Chrissy Uriarte and senior Kelsey Knight outlasted their opponent in a tiebreaker at No. 2, 8-7 (7-0).
Hedberg extended her team’s lead with a dominant performance at No. 1 singles, beating Marian Tangarife, 6-2, 6-2.
“Moira is always on her game,” said Hinson. “She is always pumped up and fighting hard. It showed great leadership for her to just go out and take care of business at No. 1.”
Uriarte and Knight had slightly harder battles at No. 3 and 4, respectively, but both Eagles prevailed. Uriarte defeated Madelyn Weltzin, 7-5, 6-4, while Knight bested Svenja Tegtmeier, 7-5, 6-2.
In at dramatic match at No. 5, senior Ryann Warner rallied several different times for an inspiring three-set victory over Laura Theus (2-6, 6-4, 10-7).
“Ryann lost her first set pretty quickly,” said Hinson. “But she battled, and was able to change what she was doing to get back into it. She won the second set, but was down again in the matchbreaker. It was the last match to finish and everyone was encouraging and cheering her on. She reeled off seven or eight points in a row for the win in what was really the match of the day.”
Eastern carried that momentum right into Ogden, where it celebrated its first win over the Wildcats since the 2010 season.
In doubles, the Eagles fought through two intense tiebreakers to ultimately capture the coveted point.
Sophomore Alexis Filliol and senior Rocio Norena came up big at No. 3 when they outlasted WSU’s Carly Lloyd and Nittaya Phonharath, 8-7 (7-4). But at the same time, Hedberg and Patton were in the midst of their own nail-biting match at No. 1.
“I was on the sidelines thinking I was going to have a heart attack,” said Hinson.
Hedberg and Patton found themselves battling Krist Elmer and Thais Kurer in a tiebreaker as well. Trading point after point, the Eagle duo finally prevailed, 8-7 (9-7).
“I think the one area that really stood out to me this weekend was our doubles,” said Hinson. “Winning the doubles point in both matches was such a huge advantage. Not only do you get a point for it, but you gain a ton of momentum going into singles. It takes a lot of the pressure off, and allows us to go in and play more free and play our game.
“We fought so hard, and when the pressure points came up, we did what it took to win," added Hinson. "We had that mental edge, especially against Weber State. Everyone was so pumped up. It felt like we had won the whole match after winning the doubles point in those two tiebreakers.”
In singles against the Wildcats, Hedberg, Uriarte, Knight and Filliol all recorded straight-set wins to get the 'W' for the team.
Hedberg defeated Elmer at No. 1, 6-2, 7-5, while Uriarte dominated Phonharath at No. 3, 6-2, 6-2.
Knight battled Kurer in a close match at No. 4, but in the end, came out with a convincing 7-5, 6-2 victory.
“Kelsey just takes care of business,” said Hinson. “As I’m roving around all the courts, I feel like Kelsey is one of the players that needs the least amount of help because she just knows what to do. She can go out there and just do what it takes to win.”
Filliol picked up her second win of the season at No. 6 against Annika Karlsen, 6-4, 6-0.
Warner endured another three-setter at No. 5, and like she did against ISU, the Colorado Springs, Colo., native came up with a big performance in the tiebreaker. Warner outlasted Michelle Warwick, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (10-8).
“The team played extremely tough this weekend, and they were able to handle and adjust to a lot of adversity,” said Hinson. “We played in a lot of tiebreakers, and had a lot of close points. Also, playing these road matches at a high altitude really affects things. The balls react differently and bounce differently. They are quicker and spin unusually. It is tougher to come in and play in high-elevation conditions. It adds another whole dimension, but we really fought through that and did a good job of handling those conditions. I was really impressed that they were able to do what they needed to win.”