‘Cats Struggle to Find Ground

Sara Levering, Staff Writer

The Linfield Wildcats faced disappointment in Texas. Against nationally ranked teams, Linfield struggled to get themselves on the scoreboard.

Against the 39th ranked Southwestern Pirates, Linfield was downed 8-1. Jose Luis Rojas, ‘20, and John Lutaaya, 20, were the only team duo to secure the lone Wildcats victory. It was a narrow victory of 8-6.

Ben McNair, ‘18, and Tyler Linscott, ‘17, were defeated 8-3. Nathan Saragoza, ‘19, and Charlie Farrenkopf, ‘17, were defeated 8-4.

The singles flights were taken by the Pirates and the Wildcats were not up to the challenge.

The next day, they hoped the bounce back against Texas-Tyler. Unfortunately, Linfield was blanked by them 9-0. All the doubles flights were troubled by an 8-4 defeat in all three flights.

The singles flights were defeated in three sets.

“We competed much better, even with fatigue setting in,” said coach Ben Belletto, “I loved that we came out with great energy and kept our heads throughout the match. This was an important challenge for us today in tough conditions.”

Attempting to bounce back against Trinity, but fell once again 8-1. McNair and Linscott teamed up to secure a major victory, but against a number two ranked team nationally, the Linfield duo scraped and played with grit and picked up a win 9-8 (7-5).

“Tyler and Ben are starting to click and understand exactly how they need to play. That was evident in this match. They played a consistently solid match and kept their focus,” said Belletto.

Saragoza and Farrenkopf lost 8-1. Rojas and Lutaaya went down 8-3.

The Wildcats struggled to propel the momentum that they needed to put themselves on the scoreboard.

Singles were won by Trinity in straight sets.

“Playing Trinity was definitely a challenge for us,” said Belletto. “Every time I ask for more, the guys find a way to dig in and compete harder than the match before. Days and matches like this don’t reflect in the win column, but they’re helping us become the team we aspire to become,” concluded Belletto.

In their final match of their extravaganza in Texas, Mary Hardin-Baylor were topped 7-2. Saragoza and Farrenkopf were the lone doubles victors at number three doubles, winning in tiebreaker fashion 9-8 (7-3).

Linscott and McNair played a nail-biting match, but lost 8-6. Rojas and Lutaaya lost 8-4.

In singles action, McNair was the only Wildcat to further the Wildcats scoreboard, winning in straight sets 6-4, 7-5.

At number one singles, Linscott fought a three-set battle, winning the first, losing the tight second set and the third 6-1, 4-6, 6-1. Jacob Mangan, ‘19, at number six singles was defeated in a close match 6-4, 6-4.

“On the whole, we didn’t play as well as we wanted to,” said assistant coach Brent Kingzett.

On looking forward to the rest of the season, “an area needing improvement is to have better consistency from match to match. We played well in all spots of the lineup at various points throughout the week, but not consistently enough to convert to a match win,” said Kingzett.

“The highlight of the trip was Ben and Tyler playing their best doubles match of the season against Trinity, defeating their top pair in a tiebreaker. That team had a fall ranking of two in the country,” said Kingzett.

Returning back home, Linfield attempted to get back into their groove at home against Pacific Lutheran.

Linscott and McNair easily rolled past their opponents 8-2. Eric Rutherford, ‘19, and Carter Pentz, ‘19, defeated their opponents 8-3 at number three doubles.

In the closest contested match of the day, Saragoza and Lutaaya won in tie-breaker fashion 9-8 (7-5).

Saragoza won in straight sets in his singles match 6-4, 6-3. Mangan at five singles won 6-1, 6-4. Prussing at six singles won decisively 6-2, 6-0.

Linscott jumped out to a nice lead, but suffered the loss in the end. McNair lost in straight sets at two singles. As well as Lutaaya lost in tie-breaker fashion at four singles.

Overall, the ‘Cats are 5-11 and 4-5 in the Northwest Conference. Next up, they’re on the road to Willamette on Sunday to square off at 11am.