Playoffs remain in reach for Wildcats
PARKLAND, Wash. – Picking up a huge win to remain in contention for one of four spots in the Northwest Conference women’s tennis tournament, Linfield avenged an early-season loss to Pacific Lutheran with a 6-3 victory Saturday afternoon at the Sprinkler Tennis Center.
The Lutes (7-8, 5-5 NWC) brought a 2-1 advantage into singles play, where the Wildcats (7-9, 6-5 NWC) took five of six flights to get the win.
The final score was key for Linfield, which needed to win by at least three matches to earn the single point awarded for the season series as part of the league’s round-robin-and-a-half schedule. Looking at the entire NWC picture, Whitman and Lewis & Clark appear poised for top-two finishes, with Linfield, Pacific Lutheran, Puget Sound and Whitworth all fighting for third and fourth place.
“PLU played tough,” said head coach Amy Dames Smith. “Kelly and Gretchen came up big to help cinch up the team victory and keep us in the hunt for a top-four finish.”
Kelly Watanabe (Soph., Kirkland, Wash.) and Gretchen Jernstedt (Soph., Wilsonville, Ore.) won at Nos. 5 and 6 singles, respectively, in a great demonstration of Linfield’s depth. Watanabe downed Catherine Miolla 6-1, 6-4 while Jernstedt battled hard for the 7-5, 5-7, 10-4 victory over Allison McClure.
The Wildcats also swept the top three singles flights. Caroline Brigham (Jr., Eagle, Idaho) topped Samantha Lund 7-5, 6-3 at No. 1 singles. Lexi Thomas (Sr., Redding, Calif.) rallied for the three-set victory over Leah Newell by a score of 5-7, 6-1, 6-3 and Kaila Nip (Soph., Lahaina, Hawaii) defeated Payton McGriff 6-2, 6-1.
Tina Aarsvold picked up the sole point for the Lutes in singles. She won 6-4, 6-4 against Kwynn Ecton (Fr., Fort Collins, Colo.) in the No. 4 match.
Earlier in doubles action, Lund and McGriff defeated Ecton and Brigham 8-5 at No. 1 singles and Aarsvold while Aarsvold and Newell edged Jernstedt and Thomas 8-6 in the middle flight. Nip and Watanabe partnered for the 8-4 victory over McClure and Katherine Patton at No. 3 doubles to avoid the doubles sweep.
COMING UP: Linfield’s final regular-season match takes place at home, against Willamette, Friday afternoon beginning at 1 p.m.