While Westmont Women’s Tennis saw their season come to a close on Tuesday, the news was not all bad for the Warriors. Ahead of their GSAC Quarterfinals matchup against San Diego Christian, Westmont received word that three of their Warriors had received All-Golden State Athletic Conference honors.
Senior Rachal Jackson and freshman Francesca Aguirre were named to the All-GSAC team, and Associate Head Coach Cade Pierson was named the GSAC Coach of the Year in her first season on the job.
“It’s not surprising that these two were chosen for the All-GSAC team,” said Pierson. “From an experience point of view, they are on two very different ends of the spectrum, but they play similar games and have similar mentalities. They are true Warriors through and through.
“Both of them have been constants for our team not only in results, but in the energy they bring on a daily basis.”
For Jackson, this is the second consecutive season in which she has received the honor, and for Aguirre, in her collegiate debut, she receives the honor for the first time. Jackson led the Warriors all season long on court one, where she posted a doubles record of 5-3 in GSAC play alongside Christine Hemry.
Jackson also posted similar success in singles, finishing with five wins and three losses against GSAC opponents.
“It’s awesome to see Rachal go out receiving this honor,” offered Pierson. “This is her second time receiving this award and she is so deserving of this honor.”
Aguirre was debatably the Warriors’ best player in 2022, as her consistent play made her the first freshman to earn All-GSAC honors in the program since Pierson herself did it in 2017. Alongside senior Emily Peterson, Aguirre posted a record of 7-2 in doubles against GSAC opponents.
Singles is where Aguirre truly turned heads as a freshman, as the freshman went undefeated in nine matches against GSAC opponents.
“This honor is rightfully deserved for Francesca,” said Pierson. “It’s a reminder that she is already such a talented player and that there is still so much for her to learn and grow into. She has such a high ceiling for potential.”
For Pierson, the honor of coach of the year is extra meaningful in her first year guiding the very program that raised her. From 2017 to 2021, Pierson was named to the All-GSAC team four times, named an NAIA All-American twice, and was the ITA Senior Player of the Year in her final campaign.
“This is a really special honor,” said a proud Pierson. “I was not expecting this at all. We have so much talent in this conference obviously amongst players, but amongst coaches as well. It’s an incredible surprise to receive this honor.”
In March of 2020, Pierson thought her career at Westmont had come to an abrupt end before utilizing her final year of eligibility in 2021. Then, towards the end of her career this time last season, the reality of leaving Westmont and the game of tennis began to set in.
Once again, however, the Westmont community was fortunate enough to keep Pierson around once again.
“Last season,” reflected Pierson, “in the midst of my fifth and final tennis season, and before my coaching position fell into place, I remember feeling this overwhelming sadness. The fact of the matter was that in a few weeks, for the first time in over ten years, tennis wasn’t going to be the most important thing in my life anymore.
“Fast forward to this spring and the end of my first season coaching, I giggle knowing that I couldn’t have been more wrong. God has a funny sense of humor, doesn’t he?”
In her first season on the staff, Pierson led Westmont to a 6-2 record in conference play, and a four seed in the GSAC tournament. While the club fell in the GSAC Quarterfinals, it would appear that with Pierson leading the way, the future for Westmont Women’s Tennis remains as bright as ever.
Jacob Norling is the sports information assistant at Westmont College.