Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Trio of losses but twinkle of highlights

UW-Whitewater’s tennis programs are among some of the best in the nation. Under head coach Frank Barnes’ leadership the women have won the last 17 WIAC tournaments and have not dropped a conference match since October of 2006. But, sometimes a bump comes in the road.

Sophomore Gracie Ha prepares to hit a forehand in her match as the No. 2 singles player against North Central College at Nielsen Tennis Stadium in Madison, Wisconsin, Saturday April 6, 2024. (Parker Olsen)

During this season’s Midwest Invitational, at Nielsen Tennis Stadium in Madison, the Warhawks left winless. Friday’s two duals both ended in 5-4 losses for Whitewater, coming against No. 28 Denison University (Ohio) and No. 32 Hope College (Michigan). The No. 38 Warhawks were handed a third loss by No. 37 North Central College (Illinois) 6-3 on Saturday. 

Despite a winless weekend the Warhawks found, and created, some highlights. Numbers five and six singles players Alex Repplier and Sarah Ferguson, respectively, both came out on top against their Hope opponents. The top two Whitewater doubles teams pulled out victories against Denison, while in singles Cassie Lee and Gracie Ha took down Denison’s top two players.

“Cassie’s win over Denison was notable, she’s one of the strongest girls in the region. That will be good for Cassie’s ranking,” Barnes said. “She was down big and figured out a way to win in the second set and she was really gutty in the third set tiebreaker.”

Lee’s win over Denison’s Dasha Chistyakova included a massive momentum change which saw Lee take the win 3-6, 6-0 (10-8). 

Whitewater’s final match of the invite, against North Central, saw many tight contests but only a few in favor of the Warhawks. North Central was on the verge of sweeping all three doubles flights but Repplier and MacKenzie Lindow battled their way to a victory.

The three doubles pair was down 7-4 in their set of first-to-eight games, making every game do or die. The duo found a groove and tied it at seven before winning an intense set tiebreaker that saw a handful of must win points. Their 8-7 (10-8) doubles win gave the Warhawks a spark of life heading into singles play.

North Central took four of the six singles matches but not without a great deal of resistance from Whitewater. Sophomore Molly Asfeld earned one of the Warhawks singles victories, and it certainly was earned. Asfeld dropped the first set 4-6 to Nina Patience but grinded to claim the second set 7-5 to force a match tiebreaker. Asfeld jumped ahead to a 4-0 lead and maintained a strict gameplan to propel herself to a 10-6 win, earning herself a 4-6, 7-5 (10-6) victory in the four singles slot.

“Normally when I slow down the pace of the ball it makes me feel relaxed, I tend to win more points. When I slow down the ball I feel more relaxed and confident,” Asfeld said of her strategy to hit high lobbing balls to Patience. “…She was also missing shots that were higher, not middle balls.”

The win was Asfeld’s only singles win of the weekend after losing two close matches the day prior.

Gracie Ha follows through on a backhand in a No. 2 singles match against North Central College at Nielsen Tennis Stadium in Madison, Wisconsin, Saturday April 6, 2024. (Parker Olsen)

“I tried to push myself and come back, slow down a little bit. Work harder than I was, especially in the tiebreaker, because yesterday I lost in a tiebreaker so I wanted my redemption on a tiebreaker,” Asfeld said.

Asfeld and the Warhawks will be seeing their North Central foes again Sunday, April 14. The way the invite shook out meant the two teams would get a first hand scouting opportunity.

“North Central is really strong… they’ve got everyone returning from last year,” Barnes said. “This will be a good way to do some scouting and see what styles we’re playing.”

Whitewater’s energy levels remain at a good level despite the tough weekend. Those levels will have to stay high as they take the court against strong competitors before the WIAC Final Four AQ Tourney. North Central and the Warhawks will square off again before Whitewater travels to No. 4 University of Chicago and then No. 7 Washington University in St. Louis.

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Parker Olsen
Parker Olsen, Managing Editor

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