Blugolds soar over Bulldogs

UW-Eau Claire women’s tennis dominated this weekend with a 9-0 win against Minnesota-Duluth

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Photo by Sam Farley

No. 1 doubles partners Natalie Wijesinghe and Sarah Henderson assisted in the Blugolds’ 9-0 sweep against the University of Minnesota-Duluth on Friday.

The UW-Eau Claire women’s tennis team dominated the Division II University of Minnesota-Duluth (UMD) on Friday with a 9-0 win, bumping up their season record to 12-6-1.

Due to a spotty forecast, the Blugolds battled the Bulldogs at the Eau Claire YMCA rather than the outdoor McPhee courts.

Olivia Gallagher, a senior from Eau Claire, said she prefers the YMCA tennis center’s “hard” courts over McPhee’s “spongy” indoor courts. Still, nothing beats a match under the sun.

“It’s fun to be outside when it’s warm but better to be have it inside (today),” she said.

While the weather was gloomy outside, the Blugolds worked up a storm of their own inside the tennis center.

No. 1 doubles partners Sarah Henderson and Natalie Wijesinghe along with No. 3 partners Brooke Volpone and Hannah Zevenbergen each claimed an 8-6 win against the Bulldogs.

Eau Claire’s No. 2 duo — Gallagher and Molly Stewart — kept the momentum going with an 8-5 win.

Henderson said the girls were able to stay positive in these neck-in-neck matches due to each others’ support and good leadership on the court.

“We had a lot of close matches … but we stayed cool and pulled them all out,” Henderson said.

The Blugolds headed into singles with a 3-0 lead but didn’t stop there.

Wijesinghe was consistent with a 7-5, 7-5 win in an intense match against UMD’s Shelby Benkofske.

Both Henderson and Stewart made quick work of their opponents with scores of 6-3, 6-2 and 6-3, 6-0, respectively.

Henderson said the team, herself included, carried forth their drive and perseverance from an intense week of practice.

“I started out a little rough, a lot of my shots were flying out,” Henderson said, “but, you know, pulled through, which is good and what we need.”

In No. 4 singles, Volpone made an impressive comeback after losing the first set against UMD’s Kelsey Zetah, ending with scores of 3-6, 6-2 and 10-4.

But the Blugolds weren’t done yet.

Gallagher dominated her No. 5 singles match with a 6-1, 6-4 win.

She said she had been encountering some difficulties this season but left those all behind on Friday.

“I’ve struggled with my forehand a little bit this year but it was going pretty well,” Gallagher said. “It felt good to just play free.”

Molly Sanvik finished the sweep for the Blugolds with a 7-5, 6-4 win at the No. 6 slot.

Henderson said although they beat the Bulldogs last year, it was helpful to be prepared for anything.

“It’s good to make sure we don’t overlook our opponents from year to year,” she said. “Just treat every opponent like they’re going to be tough to beat — if you go in with that mindset, you’ll be ready for anything.”

Eau Claire will keep this idea in mind as they take on St. Scholastica of Minnesota at home Wednesday, April 19. Check for updates on the time and place of the event.