‘Hawks win eight straight

Oct. 29, 2014 By Paul Bressler

Despite not having two-time All-American Megan Humphreys, the UW-Whitewater women’s tennis team won its eighth consecutive WIAC Championship at Nielsen Tennis Stadium in Madison.

“It was tougher than ever,” Barnes said. “We were without our top player in Megan Humphreys due to a broken thumb. Amy Upthagrove has been really battling an arm injury. None of these girls that are stepping in have ever been in this climate before. I told the players to look at this as a challenge and really get excited about that opportunity to be able to do this. We weren’t expected to be the heavy favorites.”

The championship was the team’s 15th overall and the ninth in the last 11 years.

It did not come as easy as many would have expected.

The title hung in the balance until the very end when the Warhawks finished a single point ahead of UW-La Crosse in the overall championship standings, 20-19.

All-American freshman Bridgid McGuire and Alicia Beck sealed the deal for the ’Hawks with an 8-5 victory in the No. 1 doubles championship match against Eagles freshman Bridget Bellissimo and junior Kimmy Mrozek.

The ’Hawks and Eagles entered the weekend with seven and six points respectively.

The points were accumulated over the season, and the dual meet standings account for one-third of the championship outcome.

The two teams accumulated 13 points and tied for first in the weekend tournament.

Ultimately, an 8-1 victory over the Eagles on Sept. 13 had a significant impact on the final standings.

Even with Humphreys out due to injury, the ’Hawks won three of the six individual singles titles and two of the three doubles championships.

They also finished in the top four in the rest of the singles and doubles slot competitions.

Head coach Frank Barnes was named WIAC Coach of the Year following the victory. It was the sixth time in Barnes’ 12 years at the program he has earned the award.

“I was so happy when I found out our coach had won,” McGuire said. “He is so deserving of it. He is so patient and caring, and he knows exactly what to say at the right times.”

Freshman Jillian Wallace and Beck finished the tournament with titles in singles and doubles.

Wallace dismantled Eagles junior Kendra Woyahn 6-1, 6-2 in the No. 5 singles final.

In the No. 4 slot, Beck persevered to a competitive third-set tiebreaker 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (3) against UW-Eau Claire senior Madison Rossebo.

Beck also was named to the league’s All-Sportsmanship Team.

Sophomore Amy Upthagrove was the only player with prior WIAC Championship experience. She teamed up with Wallace to secure the No. 2 doubles championship against Eagles Junior Bryanne Blanton and freshman Ali Bublitz 8-5.

Freshman Alexandra Talyansky, who lost but one time during the fall season, cruised to a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Blanton in the No. 3 singles championship.

McGuire and senior Amanda Dick were the runners-up in the No. 1 and No. 2 slots respectively.

“I was obviously disappointed with my loss in singles, but it was an exciting match and that was all I could hope for,” McGuire said. “It felt amazing winning doubles. This was even bigger than our win over them in ITA’s last month. This was such an important match that sealed the conference title.”

The ’Hawks have now earned the right to host the WIAC Final Four AQ Tournament.

The tournament will take place on April 25, 2015, and the winner earns the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament.

“Only two of our starters in our line-up were returning players,” Barnes said. “We had a lot of new players to get used to all season. We went undefeated and did well at ITA’s. I don’t think the season could have gone any better considering all the new players. We’re a young team. Even our two starters from last year are sophomores.”

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