Sophomore Moira Hedberg picks up fifth and sixth-consecutive wins at No. 1 singles
The Eastern Washington University women’s tennis team was right there in both its matches this weekend against Gonzaga and Northern Colorado, but after conceding the all-important doubles point, EWU came up just short.
The Eagles fell at GU on Friday (March 1), 4-2, before suffering a 4-3 loss at home on Saturday (March 2) to Big Sky rival Northern Colorado.
Eastern had won its previous four matches coming into the weekend, but with the two losses, the Eags fall to 4-7 on the year and 2-2 in league play.
Although as a team EWU was not able to come up with the wins, sophomore Moira Hedberg certainly impressed with two big victories at No. 1 singles. On Friday, Hedberg had a dominant start against GU’s Katie Edwards, winning the first set, 6-0, and then taking the second, 7-5.
Hedberg then earned her sixth-straight singles win when she bested Northern Colorado’s Jennifer Buchanan, 6-4, 7-5.
“Moira does a great job of battling and just doing what it takes to win,” said EWU interim head coach Dustin Hinson. “Today was actually a tough one for her. She was kind of off with her rhythm, but was still able to find a way to fight through.”
Hedberg is now 7-4 on the season in singles, with her only four losses coming against nationally-ranked teams.
In the home match Saturday against UNC, Eastern was the first team on the board when sophomore Chrissy Uriarte and senior Kelsey Knight rolled to an easy 8-1 victory at No. 2. But the other two matches were much closer, and unfortunately, Northern Colorado had the edge, winning at No. 1, 9-7, and at No. 3, 8-6.
“Every match we’ve won this year, we’ve won the doubles point,” said Hinson. “It is such a momentum swing. We were up in the match at No. 1, but couldn’t hang on, so letting that one slip away was really tough. We felt positive heading into singles, but it is such a tough thing to have to come back and win four singles matches. It’s definitely an uphill battle.”
The Bears extended their lead to 2-0 when Uriarte dropped her match at No. 2 singles, 6-4, 6-4. But with Hedberg’s victory at No. 1 and a 6-4, 6-1 win for Knight at No. 4, EWU managed to tie up at two apiece.
Senior Chelsea Patton played a tough match against Stephanie Catlin at No. 3, but just could not get it done, falling 6-4, 6-1.
Sophomore Alexis Filliol, playing against her former team, won her first set at No. 6, 7-5, which gave Eastern a little boost down the stretch. Filliol went on to win her match with a 6-1 decision in the second set, but not before senior Ryann Warner lost to Uhle at No. 5, which gave the Bears the narrow 4-3 decision.
“There were a lot of close points today and we fought hard,” said Hinson. “But Northern Colorado is tricky. They are counter-punches, and just grind it out. They do things that you don’t see a lot, and our players got a little tight in the face of that.”
“We took a small step back today in terms of conference, and we need to work on getting our confidence back and hitting the shots we know we can,” added Hinson. “But this is good for the team - it gives our players a chance to see what they’re made of and test their resolve.”
Eastern suffered a similar loss on Friday in Spokane against cross-town rival Gonzaga. The Bulldogs earned the early advantage with an 8-4 win at No. 1 doubles and 8-2 victory at No. 3.
Hedberg and Uriarte put Eastern on the board with a couple impressive wins at the top of the lineup, but EWU lost in straight sets at 3, 5 and 6 to give GU the win.
Uriarte won her match at No. 2, 6-1, 6-3. Warner was also up a set in her match at No. 4 after winning a tiebreaker, but once the Zags clinched, that match was called.
Eastern will now have a little hiatus from conference play, as it faces three non-conference foes on the road next week. The Eags play at Idaho on Wednesday (March 6), followed by two matches in Boise against Boise State and New Mexico.