Getting back into the swing of things

UW-Eau Claire defeats Oshkosh and goes on to compete in Whitewater Invite

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Blugold women’s tennis started off their season with a victory over the Oshkosh Titans on Friday, and concluded their competition weekend with a fourth place finish in Saturday’s Whitewater Invite.

The UW-Eau Claire women’s tennis team had a successful competition weekend, as they defeated the UW-Oshkosh Titans 7-2 this past Friday in their season opener and placed fourth out of eight teams in their match Saturday at the Whitewater Invite.

Senior Sarah Henderson said she was proud of her team’s effort during Friday’s matches.

“For Friday, the first match of the season, the fight and the effort was definitely there,” said Henderson. “(We) just bring everything we learned from the matches into practice and hopefully just keep improving.”

In the singles matches, No. 1 singles player Natalie Wijesinghe defeated Bailey Sagen, 6-2, 6-2.

Henderson defeated Alyssa Leffler of Oshkosh 6-3, 6-4 in the No. 2 spot in singles. In the No. 3 spot, Molly Stewart defeated Kelly Hodyl 6-0, 6-1. Though Emily Cooper suffered a loss in the No. 4 spot, teammates Molly Sanvik and Kendra Berry dominated Oshkosh in their No. 5 and No.6 slots respectively.

In the doubles competition, Henderson and Wijesinghe unfortunately were defeated by Oshkosh’s No. 1 doubles players Peters and Sagen, earning a score of 8-4. However, Eau Claire reclaimed their lead by defeating Oshkosh in both the No. 2 and No. 3 spots 8-3 and 8-4 respectively.

Though this year’s roster comprises mostly returning athletes, the team also welcomes freshman Cooper who won state in high school doubles.

Junior Molly Stewart said she is excited to see what Cooper can add to the team alongside a strong returning class.

On Saturday, the Blugolds finished in the middle of the pack at Whitewater’s 47th Annual Warhawk Invite.

In No. 1 singles draw, Wijesinghe took a high spot, placing 2nd after defeating Grinnell (Iowa) 3-6, 6-4, 10-0, but ultimately lost to Whitewater’s Talyansky in the championships. Henderson played No. 2 singles defeated Favia from Carthage 6-3, 6-4 but unfortunately lost her matches against players from Grinnell and UW-La Crosse.

In doubles play, the No. 1 pair of Cooper and Stewart suffered a loss in their first two matches, but defeated Illinois’ Wesleyan and took a respectable 7th place.

No. 2 and No. 3 doubles lost their first matches but went on to win the consolation bracket. Sanvik and Zevenbergen competed together in their No. 2 doubles slot and defeated Grinnell 6-4, 6-1 for their consolation championship.  No. 3 doubles Oswald and Koch won against Augustana (Iowa) in their second matchup for the day and went on to defeat Carthage 6-2, 6-1 to solidify their spot as consolation champs.

Henderson said she has high hopes for the season.

“Our team is already better than last year’s team,”  Henderson said. “Even our singles lineup is more competitive. I even have hopes that we could maybe be conference champs.”

Head Coach Tom Gillman said he was proud of the team’s effort and wants the women to focus on mental toughness moving forward.

“I didn’t see our team fall off . . . in a lot of cases, I think our girls got better as the tournament wore on,” Gillman said. “Our biggest thing we need to work on is how we are going to play our matches mentally. That’s going to be our focal point.”

The Blugolds will hit the court once again this Saturday as they host both UW-Stout and Saint Benedict.