Bearcats Defeat Pacific, 5-4, to Even Season Series with Boxers

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

SALEM, ORE. -- Willamette University won two of three doubles matches and split the six singles matches, as the Bearcats defeated Pacific University, 5-4, in a Northwest Conference women's tennis match at the Courthouse Tennis Center on Saturday, March 31. The win tied the season series for the Bearcats, who avenged a 5-4 loss at Pacific on Feb. 25.

Willamette, ranked #13 in the West Region of NCAA Division III, improved to 6-6 overall, 4-4 in the Northwest Conference. Pacific, ranked #12 in the West Region, fell to 6-9 overall, 5-5 in the NWC.

The Bearcats led 2-1 after doubles and earned wins in three of the first four singles matches to be completed. The wins were at #6, #5 and #3 singles. Pacific won #4 singles, so Willamette was in front 5-2 with two matches left.

"We knew this was an important match for us in conference play and the girls were really ready to play," WU Head Coach Becky Roberts said. "Even in the matches we didn't win, we had some good chances. The quality of play was high and it was a good match for both teams."

Willamette and Pacific split two close matches in doubles. Cat Goya and Megan Yoshimoto from Pacific, ranked #12 in the region, edged out Shannon Palmer (Sr., Salem, OR/Sprague HS) and Sabrina Gutierrez (So., Newbury Park, CA/Newbury Park HS), ranked #8 in the region, by a final score of 8-6. Willamette claimed #3 doubles, also 8-6, as Emily Funabiki and Elise Derby outlasted Amber Crariotto and Kelsey Lack.

The Bearcats gained an advantage heading into singles when Denise Poltavski (Fr., Woodland Hills, CA/El Camino Real HS) and Emily Bee (Sr., Portland, OR/Lincoln HS) rolled past Rachel Mizuno and Lillian Do of Pacific, 8-1.

WU quickly picked up the next two wins, as Derby downed Lack, 6-1, 6-0, at #6 singles, and Funabiki moved past Crariotto, 6-1, 6-2, at #5 singles. Do of Pacific defeated Bee of Willamette, 6-1, 6-2, in the #4 singles match to pull the Boxers within 4-2.

Poltavksi locked up the team victory for Willamette when she achieved a 6-1, 6-2 victory over Mizuno at #3 singles.

Pacific won two very close matches at #1 and #2 singles. At #1 singles, Goya (#18 in the West Region), outlasted Palmer (#20) in a thriller that went to a third-set tie-breaker, 6-2, 2-6, 7-6 (7-2). At #2 singles, Yoshimoto and Gutierrez split the first two sets, before Yoshimoto won in a super tie-breaker played instead of a thirst set, 1-6, 6-3, 10-7.

Willamette will travel to Walla Wall, Wash., and Spokane, Wash., next weekend to take on Whitman College and Whitworth University, respectively, in NWC action. The Bearcats will battle Whitman on Friday, March 6 at 10:30 a.m. (PDT). On Saturday, the Bearcats will play Whitworth at 10 a.m. (PDT).

Willamette University 5
Pacific University 4
Emily Funabiki won #5 singles and teamed up with Elise Derby to win #3 doubles.

Emily Funabiki won #5 singles and teamed up with Elise Derby to win #3 doubles.