Bearcats Gain Edge in Battle for NWC Playoff Berth with 8-1 Victory over Pioneers

By Robert McKinney, Athletics Communications Director, (503) 370-6110

SALEM, ORE. -- Willamette University needed to defeat Lewis & Clark College in women's tennis on Tuesday, April 10, in order to keep alive realistic hopes of qualifying for one of six Northwest Conference playoff berths. In fact, the Bearcats were seeking a decisive victory to gain a tie-breaker edge over the Pioneers, after losing at Lewis & Clark, 5-4, on March 3.

Willamette's tennis players responded with an 8-1 win over the Pioneers at the Courthouse Tennis Club, increasing WU's chances of making the playoffs. L&C's hopes of postseason play were reduced by the loss.

With two matches left for both teams on the regular season schedule, the Bearcats and the Pioneers are deadlocked at 5-9 for sixth place in NWC play. Willamette's 12-6 combined score in head-to-head matches, will give the Bearcats the playoff berth if the teams finish tied.

WU plays at George Fox University, 1-12 in the NWC, on Friday, April 13, and concludes the regular season at the University of Puget Sound, 10-3 in the NWC, on Saturday, April 14. Lewis & Clark plays at Puget Sound on Friday and at Linfield College, 13-0 in the NWC, on Sunday, April 15. The NWC Tournament is set for April 20-21 in Yakima, Wash.

In Tuesday's head-to-head match, the Bearcats took a 3-0 lead on the Pioneers by sweeping the doubles matches. At #1 doubles, Tiffany Kam (Jr., Pearl City, HI/Punahou HS) and Alaine Anderson (Jr., Santa Ana, CA/Foothills HS) defeated Lisa Harunaga and Liz Nguyen, 8-4. Susan Butler (Sr., Boise, ID/Boise HS) and Becca Younger (S., Albuquerque, NM/Sandia Prep) downed Clio Beatty and Maggie Peach at #2 doubles, 8-2. In the #3 doubles match, Alyssa Morrison (Fr., Anacortes, WA/Anacortes HS) and Abby Funabiki (So., Pullman, WA/Pullman HS) edged Asami Kimura and Teresa Kiemnec, 9-8, including an 8-6 score in the tie-breaker.

In singles, L&C won the #1 match for its only victory of the afternoon, as Harunaga defeated Kam, 6-3, 6-3. Butler, who missed the first meeting with Lewis & Clark, made a difference in the rematch, as she won #2 singles over Nguyen, 6-4, 6-1, and allowed WU's remaining singles players to return to their normal positions.

Anderson of Willamette extended her singles winning streak to nine consecutive matches. She won at the #3 position, 7-5, 7-5, over Beatty. WU also claimed straight-set victories at #4 and #5 singles. Funabiki rallied from a set down to win #6 singles over Kiemnec, 2-6, 6-3, 6-3.

Willamette is now 6-12 overall. L&C fell to 7-11 on the season. WU's match on Friday at George Fox is set to start at 3 p.m. (PDT). The Bearcats' match at Puget Sound on Saturday is slated to get underway at 1 p.m. (PDT).

Tuesday, April 10, 2007
At Courthouse Tennis Club, Salem, Ore.

Willamette University 8, Lewis & Clark 1

#1 - Lisa Harunaga (L&C) defeated Tiffany Kam (WU), 6-3, 6-3
#2 - Susan Butler (WU) defeated Liz Nguyen (L&C), 6-4, 6-1
#3 - Alaine Anderson (WU) defeated Clio Beatty (L&C), 7-5, 7-5
#4 - Alyssa Morrison (WU) defeated Maggie Peach (L&C), 6-1, 6-2
#5 - Becca Younger (WU) defeated Asami Kimura (L&C), 6-1, 6-0
#6 - Abby Funabiki (WU) defeated Teresa Kiemnec (L&C), 2-6, 6-3, 6-3

#1 - Kam and Anderson (WU) defeated Harunaga and Nguyen (L&C), 8-4
#2 - Butler and Younger (WU) defeated Beatty and Peach (L&C), 8-2
#3 - Morrison and Funabiki (WU) defeated Kimura and Kiemnec (L&C), 9-8 (8-6)

Records: Willamette is 6-12 overall, 5-9 in the NWC; Lewis & Clark is 7-11 overall, 5-9 in the NWC.

Susan Butler earned wins at #2 singles and #2 doubles in Willamette's 8-1 victory over Lewis & Clark.

Susan Butler earned wins at #2 singles and #2 doubles in Willamette's 8-1 victory over Lewis & Clark.