'Cats Compete In Major Fall Tournament
WALLA WALLA, Wash. – Linfield got a chance to test a completely new doubles lineup in a major tournament and see how some new varsity players fared in their first collegiate action this past weekend at the 2012 USTA/ITA Regional Championships, hosted by Whitman College at the Bratton Center and Walla Walla Country Club courts.
Third-seeded Caroline Brigham (Jr., Eagle, Idaho) enjoyed the most success, advancing to the singles quarterfinals. She won her three opening matches against Whitman’s Maddy Webster, Puget Sound’s Malia Ford and Puget Sound’s Jenna Gerdsen. Cornell and Gerdsen were both ranked in the 9-16 group, which listed the respective players in alphabetical order.
In the round of eight, she ran up against Olivia Cornell of Lewis & Clark, falling to her Pioneer opponent by a score of 6-3, 7-5. Cornell, who was also included in the 9-16 rankings list, dropped her semifinal match to No. 2 overall seed Courtney Lawless of Whitman.
Kelly Watanabe (Soph., Kirkland, Wash.), Lexi Thomas (Sr., Redding, Calif.) and Katie Krieger (Soph., McMinnville, Ore.) also won their first-round matchups in the singles bracket. Watanabe topped Elise Derby of Willamette, Thomas defeated Lillian Do of Pacific and Krieger won over Holly Dixon of Puget Sound.
In doubles action, Brigham and Kaila Nip (Soph., Lahaina, Hawaii) played together for the first time, competing as the tournament’s second-seeded pair. The Wildcat duo won its opening match over Lewis & Clark’s Olivia Sweetman and McKenna McCluskey before falling in the round of 16 to Rachel Heringer and Denise Poltavski of Willamette.
Thomas and Gretchen Jerdstedt also advanced to the second round in doubles action after defating Puget Sound’s Dixon and Gerdsen.
Watanabe, just a sophomore, assumed a leadership role in partnering with freshman Kwynn Ecton (Fr., Fort Collins, Colo.). After dropping their opening match, the young ‘Cats rebounded and worked their way through the consolation bracket to the finals, where they lost to Whitman’s Webster and Kate Kunkel-Patterson.
Linfield wrapped up competition Sunday, but the tournament concludes Monday with the all-Whitman semifinals and finals in singles as well as the doubles championship, which also features two pairs from the host school. The winners advance to the National Small College Championships, contested Oct. 11-14 in Mobile, Ala.