Women’s tennis remains tied for first in WIAC

Women’s tennis remains tied for first in WIAC

Story by Frank F. Pellegrino

The UW-Eau Claire women’s tennis team swept a pair of away matches last weekend to remain tied for first at the top of the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference standings.

Facing conference opponents UW-Stevens Point and UW-Oshkosh, Eau Claire dominated their competition by a combined score of 17-1. After the wins, the team improved to 4-0 in WIAC, tied for first with UW-Whitewater.

In their first match last weekend, the Blugolds took on Stevens Point, who came into the match with a 1-4 conference record, second worst in the WIAC. Although the team was facing an inferior opponent, junior Taylor Heltne said the team wasn’t taking anything for granted.

“Going into Friday we knew kind of who Stevens Point was, but we couldn’t really focus on that,” Heltne said. “We knew that would affect our performance.”

Heltne certainly did not let it affect her performances as she came away with a 6-1, 6-0 win in her No. 1 singles match. Coach Tom Gillman said that after struggling at times last year, Heltne is really starting to pick up her game and that this is his favorite match he’s seen her play.

“That match in particular she showed it’s quite a different version of Taylor,” Gillman said. “She was able to maintain her game all throughout the match, and that’s what really made her performance
stand out.”

Heltne and sophomore Katie Gillman combined for an 8-1 win in their No. 1 doubles match. Between all of the singles and doubles matches Eau Claire played, no Blugold gave up more than two games to any opponent, as the team cruised to a 9-0 sweep.

On Saturday the team headed to Oshkosh, who came into the match with a 3-2 WIAC record. Eau Claire needed to win the match to remain tied with undefeated Whitewater.

“We knew that it wasn’t going to be easy, and we know that it was going to be a big match to put us up top in the conference behind Whitewater,” Heltne said.

Coach Gillman said his team got off to a bit of a slow start this year with a 2-2 record, but he felt pretty good going into the match.

“Little by little we had been fixing things on the way to the Oshkosh match, and we’re a lot different team than we were just a month ago.”

Heltne faced a highly contested No. 1 singles match, but ended up coming away with a 7-6, 7-5 win. For the second straight duel-match, Eau Claire was again able to sweep all of the singles matches.

The no. 3 doubles team picked up the lone loss for the Blugolds.  Eau Claire still was able to pull out a decisive 8-1 victory in the match.

Gillman said he’s just pleased that the team has been continuing to improve throughout the system.

“It’s been getting better and better, we hope we can continue to grow, despite the fact that we’re going at a pretty good clip right now,” Gillman said.

Next up for the Blugolds is a home match against third place La Crosse on Saturday. The team will then face co-leader Whitewater on Sunday in another home match, with the regular season conference title on the line.

Heltne said she is very excited that the matches will be at home, and that she is looking forward to facing some strong competition with everything on the line.

“I love our chances of going out and competing and just going out and playing,” Heltne said. “We’re not really expected to win, so I think we can use that to our advantage and really that what our team is about.”