Women’s tennis shows depth

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By Neal Johnson

The Warhawk women’s tennis team, led by junior Jackie Vitale, completed a successful weekend at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Midwest Regional in St. Peter, Minn., on Sunday.

An unseeded Vitale led the ’Hawks entering the tournament Friday.

“I was representing UW-Whitewater by winning and making it to the finals as a non-seeded player by being mentally tough,” Vitale said

She won her first two matches against Ariana Hudson of Cornell, 6-7 (5) 6-0 6-3 and Kaitlyn Strehlow of Wisconsin Lutheran, 4-6 6-3 6-1 on Friday.

Her success transitioned to Saturday, where she won both matches against Michaelea Burroughs of St. Catherine, 6-4 6-0 and Shirlene Luk of Grinnell, 6-4, 6-2 in the quarterfinals.

“I went into the tournament knowing every match was going to be tough and I was going to fight for every point and never give up,” Vitale said.

On Sunday, Vitale defeated Bridget Doyle of Carleton College, 6-3 6-3 in the semi-final before falling to Laura Krull of Grinell College in the final.

Coach Frank Barnes was impressed with Vitale’s performance this past weekend.

“She played awesome,” Barnes said. “Her areas of improvement included no pressure points got under her skin, and she played smart.”

Going forward, Vitale said she has high expectations for the remainder of the season.

“I expect to win the conference tournament and do well as a team at indoor Nationals,” she said.

Senior No. 1 singles player Sydney Divelbiss, and junior No. 2 singles player Alexandra Bayliss both advanced to the quarterfinals Saturday before falling.

“The whole team worked really hard to prepare for this weekend,” Bayliss said. “We all went into the tournament with a lot of confidence because we had a great week of practice and we’ve had a lot of success so far this season.”

On the doubles side, No. 1 doubles team of Divelbiss and Bayliss won the consolation doubles draw.

“It’s always exciting to represent UW-Whitewater, because we’re one of the few D-III public schools that can compete with the private schools,” Bayliss said. “We did better than most teams at the ITA tournament because we’re such a deep team. Four of the top 16 and then three of the top eight players were from UW-Whitewater.”

The No. 1 doubles team defeated Dirks and Linstrom of Gustavus Adolphus College, 8-6 in the final.

The No. 2 doubles team of Vitale and senior Megan Kasten advanced to the quarterfinals, where they fell to the top seeded team of Michelle Schuopach and Tai Lucero of Coe College, 9-8(3).

Barnes said Kasten and Vitale were down 5-1 early in the match. He said they worked hard and made it close in a tiebreaker, giving themselves the chance to win.

“We’ve been working all year for this tournament, basically, because it’s one of our biggest fall competitions. The entire team has worked so hard, and the hard work showed in the results we had,” Kasten said.

She added that she has high expectations looking ahead to the remainder of this season.

“My expectations are to win conference as a team, and keep getting better as a team, individually and with partner Jacqueline Vitale,” Kasten said.

The ’Hawks’ number three doubles team of senior Lauren Aguilar and senior Kelly Foster experienced similar success, making it to the quarterfinals before falling to the third-seeded team from UW-Eau Claire, 8-1.

“The doubles team of Foster and Aguilar were very impressive,” Barnes said. “Foster would punish the opponents with her groundstrokes and Aguilar would finish the points at the net.”

Overall, Coach Barnes said he thought the ‘Hawks made a statement to the rest of the competition for the rest of the season.

“We proved we’re the deepest team and strongest in our region of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Midwest Regional,” he said.

The ’Hawks look to continue their success Wednesday when UW-Stevens Point travels to Whitewater in their third conference match of the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference season.