January 23, 2011

Eagles Win Three in a Row to Kick Off 2011 Campaign

Eastern tops Whitworth, Seattle and Whitman in opening weekend

Two days. Three matches. Three wins.

The Eastern Washington University women's tennis team was nearly flawless in its 2011 debut, as it swept Whitworth and Whitman and dropped only one point in its match with cross-state rival Seattle.

Eastern played Whitworth on Saturday (Jan. 22) at the Scotford Tennis Center in Spokane, and then returned to Cheney for a doubleheader on Sunday (Jan. 23) against Whitman and Seattle.

Highlighting the weekend's events was Eastern's 6-1 victory over the Redhawks, and most notably, the performances in doubles play.

Eastern clinched the doubles point after two incredible comebacks at No. 1 and No. 2.

At No. 2 doubles, Chelsea Patton and Helon Ricks found themselves down 7-4 to Seattle's Weissman and Lucas. The Eagle duo then rallied to win five of the next six games, including a tiebreaker at 8-8. Patton and Ricks won the match 9-8, which gave EWU its first point of the day.

The No. 1 doubles pair of Caitlin Bampton and Kelsey Knight also overcame some early adversity, as they trailed Seattle 4-2 to start the match. EWU was able to eventually gut out the win with a 9-7 decision.

"I was so proud of our efforts against Seattle," said associate head coach Dale Silha. "That is the largest margin of victory for us against SU in the last three years. The players showed a great deal of mental toughness. Just like our football team did so many times this year, our team really dug in when we were behind the eight ball and found a way to get a big win."

Knight, Bampton, Patton and Ricks also won their singles matches against the Redhawks, all of which were in straight sets. Senior Judy Liening, who was playing at No. 5 singles, also picked up a win against SU's Lucas, 6-3, 6-2.

In Eastern's sweep of Whitman, Alix Silha and Jessi Steele defeated Hannah Palkowitz and Leah Siegel at No. 3 doubles, which marked the first collegiate win for both players.

Rocio Norena also earned her first win as an Eagle, beating Palkowitz at No. 6 singles, 6-0, 6-3.

Patton had her first-career win at the No. 1 spot after she edged Alyssa Roberg, 6-4, 6-2.

Liening, sophomore Ryann Warner and freshman Nefeli Diamanti also recorded wins against Whitman.

The Eagles have another busy week ahead, with Gonzaga on Wednesday (Jan. 26) and a doubleheader on Friday (Jan. 28) against Washington State and Lewis-Clark State.

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