The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Women’s Tennis team traveled to Lake Geneva to open up their spring season on Saturday, March 7 against University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Right away the Panthers started off the night on the right track, winning all three doubles matchups 6-1, 4-1 and 3-1 respectively, giving Milwaukee a 1-0 overall lead heading into the singles portion of the match-up. In singles, the Panthers continued to control the night by winning all but one of the matches, taking the 6-1 win back home with them to Milwaukee.
While the Warhawks suffered a tough loss against a strong opponent in the Division I Panthers, the difficult opening will serve as a jump-start to their spring season.
“I kind of scheduled that intentionally,” said head coach Frank Barnes. “We have two big Division III matches next week that will affect rankings. I figured if we play this, it will push us to our potential as quick as possible.”
Those two upcoming matchups against Augustana and Gustavus Adolphus will be early tests for the team as they embark on their path to qualify for the national tournaments in May.
There were bright spots for the Warhawks on Saturday, chief among them being sophomore Elsie Ha’s marathon win over Anika Tylek. Ha was able to outlast Tylek, surviving a 6-9 deficit in the super tiebreaker. Ha’s 2-6, 6-4, 1-0 (12-10) win gave Whitewater their only team points of the night.
“I was thinking about keeping that ball in and making her execute her shot,” said Ha on her game plan during the last set of her match. “Making sure she has to win the point off of it instead of me giving her free points.”
Ha’s win was also one of the most watched matches of the night, with most of the crowd and team focusing on that one match between the two players. All throughout the match, cheering for both sides could be heard from the crowd and each teams’ players. For Ha and the Warhawks in general, hearing their teammates cheer them on is a huge boost.
“We’re a very young team but we’ve all been so close,” said Ha. “it’s really been nice to have a team who’s always there to support even on the highs and lows and cheering you on no matter what.”
“We’re all really close,” said sophomore Jessica Minkov. “We’re not just teammates, we’re really good friends. We always spend a lot of time together not just during practice or during travel time. We’re all really close and it’s so fun to have a team that’s supportive and there for eachother.
For the Warhawks, the loss against Milwaukee will be used as a springboard as they look forward to the rest of the spring season.
“We haven’t played since the end of October,” said Barnes. “So we wanted to get back in some quality matches so we’re ready for next week. It’s kind of the design, we’ve done this for the last three years. We’ve played Milwaukee right off the bat to get us right back into shape.”
Whitewater will continue their spring season with a competition against Augustana and Gustavus Adolphus on Saturday, March 14 in St. Peter, Minnesota.