NWC championships past repeats itself

Alex Jensen, Sports Editor

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The Wildcats suffered a defeat echoing the past, falling once again to the Whitman Blues in the NWC championship final round on their home court.

Last season, the Blues nudged their way past the Wildcats 5-3 and unfortunately, they reigned again 5-3.

Linfield was off to a sweeping start at the beginning of the tournament, claiming all double and single matches against the Whitworth Pirates.

But the Blues gained early momentum in the doubles round going 2-1. Number one doubles team made up of seniors Ella Riddle and Basia Kopecka faced off against Whitman’s undefeated Andrea Gu and Hanna Greenberg.

Kopecka and Riddle struggled to gain steam against Gu and Greenberg. The Blues duo was able to claim their match after Riddle double faulted on championship point.

Gu and Greenberg are ranked 12th in the nation, while Riddle and Kopecka are ranked 24th.

Riley Clayeux and Haley Fujimori, sophomore and freshman doubles team, were the Wildcats’ lone victors in the double round. The pair came out on top over Whitman’s Anastasiya Redkina and Kattie Pak 8-6.

“The team fought really hard and even though it’s a disappointment that we lost in the finals. We still went out and were able to perform to our highest and support each other,” Clayeux said.

Junior Elsa Harris and freshman Michelle Uyeda fell 88- 910 in the tie breaking set to Whitman’s Mary Hill and Lori Sheng.

Linfield finished their regular season undefeated in conference, initially blowing past the Blues 8-1 earlier in the season. Whitman and Linfield only suffered one loss during regular play, Linfield’s to No. 18 Trinity (Texas) and Whitman’s to Linfield.

On the singles side, Riddle, ranked No. 6 regionally for singles, and was able to claim her match 6-2 in both sets against the Blues Hill, ranked No. 11.

Uyeda took Whitman’s Lori Sheng 7-5 and 6-0. Harris fell to Gu 5-7 and 4-6. Whitman’s Pak took sophomore Alysse Nakasato 7-5 and 6-2.

Linfield finished the season ranked 24th nationally and Whitman is ranked 32nd.

“We are proud of everything that we have accomplished this season and as coaches we are proud of our players and how hard they fought today. It came down to pretty much to the last match a 5-4 result [box score 5-3 due to unfinished match] and those things can go either way,” co-head coach Carl Swanson said.

“You know we beat this team earlier this year but today they were a little bit better, so I give them credit for that, but we are going to celebrate our season and we’re going to learn from this and it’s going to make us better.”