Freshman Helon Ricks highlights weekend with back-to-back singles victories
The Eastern Washington University women's tennis team wrapped up its first weekend of Big Sky action with one win and one loss. The Eagles outlasted Idaho State, 4-3 on Saturday (Feb. 19) in Pocatello, Idaho before falling to Weber State, 5-2 on Sunday (Feb. 20) in Ogden, Utah.
The Eagles got off to a strong start with three straight doubles victories against the Bengals. Freshman Helon Ricks and sophomore Rocio Norena made quick work of WSU's Zamira Vasquez and Laura Severino with an 8-2 decision at No. 3 doubles.
Sophomore Chelsea Patton and junior Caitlin Bampton then clinched the doubles point for the Eags with a thrilling 8-7 victory at No. 2. The Eagles were ahead a break for most of the set until ISU tied it up a 6-6. The set went into a tiebreaker, and Idaho State was able to earn an early 6-5 advantage. But Patton and Bampton rallied back, winning three points in a row to nab the doubles point for EWU.
Winning the doubles point proved to be incredibly important, as the Bengals won at No. 1, 2 and 3 singles. Liening fell in the top spot to Katharina Marsela, 7-5, 6-1, while Bampton and sophomore Ryann Warner also lost in straight sets at No. 2 and 3, respectively.
Similar to her match in doubles play, Patton rallied from an early deficit to earn Eastern's first singles point at No. 4. The Boise, Idaho native was down 4-1 early in the first set, but charged back to win 11 of the next 13 games for a 6-4, 6-2 victory.
"Chelsea really dug in after falling behind in the first set," said EWU associate head coach Dale Silha. "She made some good adjustments and showed a lot of poise on the court."
Diamanti bested ISU's Vasquez, 6-3, 6-3 to tie the match at 3-3. The final decision came down to Ricks, who was playing at No. 5 singles. Ricks, a native of Hot Springs, Ark., found herself in a tough position after dropping the first set 6-3. She was able to break the serve of ISU's Laura Severino early in the second set and went on to win, 6-4. Ricks rode that momentum right on through, winning her third set and the match for EWU with a 6-0 effort in the third.
"We actually did not play our best tennis against ISU," said Silha. "But the team found a way to really fight. It looked like ISU got nervous, and we stayed steady through each game. It was really exciting to see, and I was proud of the team's determination."
Eastern had a harder time with the Wildcats on Sunday, who managed to top EWU, 5-2. Highlighting the match in Ogden was Ricks, who won at No. 5 singles to remain undefeated in Big Sky singles play. She took down WSU's Kristi Russell, 6-3, 6-2. Warner was also victorious in her singles outing, as she beat Annika Karlsen, 2-6, 7-6, 10-0.
With victories in both three-set matches over the weekend, EWU improved its season record in three setters to 7-3.
Eastern will continue play on the road with a non-conference match Monday (Feb. 21) against the Aggies of Utah State University.