Blugolds pick up two quality wins before dropping one to conference foe

    Blugolds go 2-1 this past weekend, competing against one of nation’s top programs

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    Photo by John Mattison

    Colleen McCullough serving this past weekend against UW-Stout

    Women’s tennis coach Tom Gillman said his team has shown significant growth after competing in their matches this past weekend, as they were up against some of the nation’s top programs.

    The Blugolds opened up the weekend with a match against conference rival UW-Stout. For the third competition in a row, the Blugolds swept their opponent 9-0.

    The Blugolds’ No. 1 singles player Sarah Henderson routed Angela Braun 6-0, 6-0 without a problem. No. 3 Paige Kuepers defeated Lindsey Thisius 6-4, 6-3, meanwhile, No. 4 Olivia Gallagher beat Kelsey Pederson 6-1, 6-2.

    The Blugolds lined up for their second match of the day against Wartburg College (Iowa). Wartburg, a team that finished 11-10 last year, challenged the Blugolds.

    This challenge was in the form of No. 1 singles player Katherine Ross.

    Head coach Tom Gillman said Ross was a top performer last year in the ITA Tournament, however, Sarah Henderson defeated Ross 6-1, 6-2.

    Along with Henderson’s victory, the Blugolds went on to sweep their competition again, as they defeated Wartburg College 9-0.

    “Sarah had a huge win against a top-notch player, I was happy with how she played,” Gillman said.

    On Sunday the Blugolds had a competition against defending national champions UW-Whitewater.

    The Warhawks finished last season with a  24-5 record and a majority of their top players returned this year, including No. 1 singles player Megan Humphreys, who was an All-American and the WIAC player of the year last season.

    The Blugolds couldn’t quite close the deal against the Warhawks, losing 1-8. But there is more to look at than just the final result, Gillman said.

    “This was an extremely talented Whitewater team, and It was a great learning experience for our players,” Gillman said. “We were competitive in the matches and kept fighting even when things didn’t go our way.”

    A high point for the Blugolds was at the No. 4 singles spot when Gallagher defeated Alicia Beck 6-4, 6-2.

    Although the Blugolds only won one match against Whitewater, they came close to stealing another in No. 6 singles, as Kendra Berry lost to Rachel Siemon 6-2, 6-3.

    There are teaching points the Blugolds can take away from playing a national power-house, Coach Gillman said, and he was fully aware of Whitewater’s talent.

    “Sunday was a mix of a young team competing against an extremely talented team,” he said. “We need to learn to stay calm and believe we’re competitive by not getting caught up in the moment,” Gillman said.

    That mental discipline, coach Gillman said, is going to be a focus for the Blugolds as they look to get back into the swing of things this weekend.

    The 4-1 Blugolds will compete on Saturday at McPhee Physical Education Center against the college of Saint Benedict (Minn.).