REDLANDS — Westmont Women’s Tennis (1-4) recorded a thrilling come-from-behind victory Saturday to defeat NCAA Div. III Redlands by a score of 5-4.
Cade Pierson, the former NAIA All-American for the Warriors, earned her first win as associate head coach.
“For most of my career, I was a grinder and comeback player,” said Pierson, “so, it’s fitting that my first win as a coach was done in the same fashion.
“Matches like today’s are what makes college tennis so special and they’re one of the big reasons I chose to coach. We’ve had so many recent close losses and I’m really happy to see us apply what we’ve learned from those matches to outlast our opponents and comeback to take the win.
“I feel like this is a big breakthrough for us this season.”
In doubles play, the Bulldogs jumped out a 2-0 lead against the Warriors when the home team took both matches on courts one and two. On court one, Kendall Bolock and Gabby Rockwood made quick work of Rachal Jackson and Emily Peterson in an 8-1 win.
On court two, Christine Hemry and Olivia Madarang battled well against Kiana Brady and Lexi Lehman, but the Bulldogs prevailed by a score of 8-6. Westmont avoided the doubles sweep on court three, where Francesca Aguirre and Sophia Ostovany earned Westmont’s first point with an 8-7 (6) win over Abby Nash and Madison Sherwood.
“In doubles, we competed well across the board,” noted Pierson. “Like yesterday, we took some quick leads and navigated our way through shifts in momentum as our opponents raised their level. Court three did a really good job of taking control of momentum at the end to take the match.
Going into singles, I acknowledged the exhaustion of the long weekend and the frustration of losing doubles so closely once again. I came down hard on them in regards to their energy and attitude, reminding them that despite the heat and exhaustion, we have business to take care of in singles.”
Bolock defeated Hemry 6-1, 6-1, on court four to open up singles play, giving the Bulldogs a 3-1 lead. However, the resilient Warriors surrendered only one more point to the home team.
Westmont tied things up at three following 6-2, 6-3 win by Peterson on court one, and a 6-2, 6-2 victory by Ostovany on court six.
Then, following the 3-3 tie, the Warriors took two of the final three matches to earn the win. Redlands’ final win came on court five where Nash bested Madarang 6-2, 1-6, 6-0. Aguirre put the Warriors on the brink of victory with a 6-3, 7-6 (2) win on court three, setting the stage for an epic court one battle to decide the match.
Jackson heroically came out on top 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 against Rockwood, and the Warriors officially tallied their first win of the season.
“I’m really proud of the energy we played with in singles, especially after the long weekend of competition,” said Pierson. “I think our fitness stood out and gave us the upper hand today. On every court we maintained composure and a positive mindset.
“Emily and Sophia both won in straight sets. Their matches both required a lot of discipline in shot selection and point construction. Francesca and Rachal again had standout wins today. After a long day yesterday Francesca had another grind and played poised, patient, and well-constructed tennis. Ultimately her fitness and discipline won her the match.
“Rachal had a thrilling three-set victory over her opponent by using her fitness and consistency to her advantage. After not hitting the ball the way in the first set, she regained her composure and focused on her strengths. Ultimately, her fitness gave her the edge in her match.”
On Saturday, February 19, the Warriors return to action when they head south to take on Concordia Irvine at 10:00 a.m.
Jacob Norling is the sports information assistant at Westmont College.