UW-Whitewater’s women’s tennis faced their two biggest rivals back-to-back over the weekend. The Warhawks prevailed, adding to their already strong record for the season of 4-0.
First was UW-La Crosse Friday Sept. 15. Whitewater was scheduled to face them at 3 p.m. but ended up facing off three hours later and at a completely different location. Despite the changes, the Warhawks got a clean sweep for the second week in a row.
“The clean sweep is really important,” head coach Frank Barnes said. “The more of those you can get during regular conference, the more that sets you up for the conference tournament. So it’s big because based on your record you get seated in a certain flight. The better your seat, the easier path to the championship. It’s huge to get a 9-0 across, and the more of that we get, the better.”
That’s especially important for Barnes as the team hasn’t lost a conference match in 16 years, which he estimates to be at about 125 matches. With the overall dominating performance of the team in the singles and doubles matches, Barnes feels that they reaped the benefits of their preparations.
“We worked hard all week on the doubles pairings that we were going to play this weekend. So first we did a bunch of doubles drills and then followed it up with some Matchplay near the end of the week. We focused on doubles because every match starts with doubles so having the doubles lead can give you some good momentum. That definitely paid off against La Crosse.”
The two and three doubles both won their matches quickly, whereas one had a bit more of a battle. That number one doubles was played by sophomore Gracie Ha and junior Cassie Lee. One of the women they faced was a doubles state champion and the other was a doubles state runner up, but despite the tough competition and being down early, they came through with the win.
“I just have more fun with matches,” Lee said. “I’m a very competitive person, so I like going into matches when it’s a big rivalry for us and I focus a lot more on it because I know how important it is. I get really excited for weekends like these.”
The other match of the weekend was against UW-Eau Claire Saturday afternoon. They came out with another win, just not as clean with the score being 6-3. The Warhawks won two of the doubles flights and four out of six in singles.
“We fueled up, we got a good stretch in, and got a good night’s sleep,” Barnes said. “We stressed that they needed to take care of their bodies and we wanted to bounce back since we knew we were about to play another tough team. It’s not easy to do back to back road matches. We did everything we planned to do and came out. Eau Claire mixed up their lineup to try to match up well against us, but it kind of backfired a little bit on them. We ended up still taking the 2-1 lead in doubles.”
Despite the slight upper hand following the doubles, the Warhawks still had very back and forth singles matches. They had a 4-1 lead as they got through number one through three singles, but the remaining matches on the courts were really close. In the end, sophomore Molly Asfeld came through in number four singles and freshman Alex Repplier fought a particularly hard match to win the number six.
After both days, the number one and two players, Lee and Ha both ended up sweeping their singles and doubles matches. Between the two of them the team had six very impressive wins from the weekend.
The next step for the team is the ITA Regional Championships. Those start Sept. 22 and conclude Sept. 25. With the undefeated record so far, Barnes believes that it won’t be too hard to keep the team motivated. All that’s left to do is continue playing their best and preparing for what’s to come.
“Regional Championships is one of the most fun tournaments of the year, they really enjoy that,” Barnes said. “So we will probably take the same approach. Do a bunch of drilling earlier in the week and finish up with some match play.”