Willamette Defeats Hardin-Simmons in Women's Tennis, 7-2

Agarycheva Downs Mertz, 6-2, 6-2, to Avenge Loss at USTA/ITA Nationals

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

SALEM, ORE. -- Willamette University built an early lead by winning all three doubles matches on its way a 7-2 victory over Hardin-Simmons University (Texas) in a women's tennis match on Tuesday, March 15 at the Courthouse Tennis Club. The win increased Willamette's record to 7-4 on the season, while Hardin-Simmons dropped to 7-4.

At #1 singles, Natalia Agarycheva (Sr., Vancouver, WA/Prairie HS/U. of Northern Colorado) from Willamette, ranked #5 in the West Region of NCAA Division III,  earned a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Lisa Mertz from Hardin-Simmons, ranked #4 in the West Region. The win by Agarycheva avenged a loss to Mertz in the preliminary round of the USTA/ITA Small College National Championships on Oct. 13, 2010 in Mobile, Ala. Mertz won that meeting, 6-3, 6-4.

Agarycheva also combined with Shannon Palmer (Jr., Salem, OR/Sprague HS) to win #1 doubles against Mertz and Jennifer Cheung, 8-3.

The Bearcats claimed a quick victory at #2 doubles when Katie Huber (So., St. Peter, MN/St. Peter HS) and Emily Bee (Jr., Portland, OR/Lincoln HS) downed Lauren Jay and Danielle Cochran, 8-1. A much closer battle was held at #3 doubles, where Sabrina Gutierrez (Fr., Newbury Park, CA/Newbury Park HS) and Emily Funabiki (Fr., Pullman, WA/Pullman HS) of WU moved past Angie Nhan and Alex Ortiz, 8-6. Gutierrez and Funabiki led 4-3, but later tailed 6-5, before winning the final three games of the match.

Agarycheva's triumph at #1 singles helped Willamette claim wins at the top four positions. Palmer outlasted Jay at #2 singles, 6-3, 7-5. Gutierrez prevailed over Cheung at #3 singles, 6-0, 6-2, and Huber won #4 singles over Nhan, 6-2, 6-4.

The Cowgirls were victorious at #5 and #6 singles. In the #5 match, Bee won the first set for WU, 7-5, but Cochran took the second set, 6-4. Cochran won a super tie-breaker 10-1 to win the match. At #6 singles, Ortiz downed Funabiki, 6-2, 6-1.

Willamette will play its next two matches in California on Friday, March 25 and Saturday, March 26. On March 25, the Bearcats will take on California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks at 2 p.m. (PDT). On March 26, WU will play Occidental College in Los Angeles at 10 a.m. (PDT).

Willamette University 7
Hardin-Simmons University 2
Natalia Agarycheva defeated Lisa Mertz, 6-2, 6-2, at #1 singles.

Natalia Agarycheva defeated Lisa Mertz, 6-2, 6-2, at #1 singles.