By Giancarlo Santoro, Sports Writer
Despite losing both Northwest Conference games 8-1 this weekend, the Pacific Lutheran University women’s tennis team could still finish fourth and qualify for the last NWC tournament spot.
The Lutes started the weekend by making a short trip across Tacoma to take on the University of Puget Sound Loggers. The Loggers proved to be too strong for PLU at the UPS Tennis Pavilion.
“We took some hard losses this weekend, but things are looking up,” sophomore Samantha Lund said. “The match against UPS was way closer than the scores showed. It seemed like we were doing great the whole time and everyone was having great points, but the scores never get to show that part.”
It was a tight affair in the doubles round, and PLU may feel a bit unlucky to come away with nothing.
The Loggers’ Marissa Friedman and Logan Thompson earned the Loggers’ first points after defeating Lund and senior Leah Newell by a close score, 9-8. Juniors Allison McClure and Mariah Siemion went on to lose to UPS’s Malia Ford and Holly Dixon by an identical score.
“UPS is very similar to us in that we don’t have any superstars or standouts,” said Newell. “Despite the score, we played really well, so I am proud of that.”
Unfortunately for the Lutes, things didn’t get much better in the singles round.
The Lutes’ first point of the match game courtesy of Siemion, who claimed the No. 5 singles victory over Sarah Nielsen with a score of 6-4, 6-2
The closest PLU would come to scoring again was in the No. 2 singles match. Newell lost her opening set 6-4 but fought back to take the next set with a 6-2 win. Newell eventually fell in a 12-10 super tiebreaker.
Saturday’s game against Linfield marked the last home game for the Lutes, but in the end, it was the Wildcats who came away with an important 8-1 victory at the Sprinker Recreation Center.
The game also served to honor lone senior Leah Newell for her four years on the team.
“We were disappointed to lose on senior night,” Lund said. “But Leah [Newell], our senior, had a great match. Her and I won our doubles match, so it was not that bad.”
It looked like the Lutes were going to make up for the previous day’s loss when Newell and Lund defeated Linfield’s Caroline Brigham and Mackenzie Fraser 8-6 in the first doubles match.
That proved to be all the Lutes could muster as Linfield won the remaining eight doubles matches to strengthen its grip on third place in the NWC.
After tying and winning their opening sets in the singles round, Newell and Siemion couldn’t win the points back for the Lutes, and fell 7-6, 6-1 and 6-0, 6-2 respectively.
“Linfield is a great team and always have been a challenge,” Lund said. “We’re going into next weekend with the hopes of keeping our victories in Portland and getting that spot in the playoff tournament.”
With its second loss in two days, Pacific Lutheran falls to 10-6 overall and 6-4 in Northwest Conference competition, while Linfield improves to 11-2 overall and 8-2 in conference.
With UPS’ surprise loss at Lewis & Clark, the Lutes are still in fourth place with a chance to take the last playoff spot.
PLU wraps up the 2014 season in Oregon at Lewis & Clark this weekend.