Spokane, Wash. - Making the most out of its final tournament of the fall season, the Eastern Washington University women's tennis team went on some great runs at the Bulldog Classic hosted by Gonzaga, including multiple semi-finals appearances, and sophomore Janaya Smith battling her way into the finals of the top singles bracket.
Taking place last weekend from Friday, Nov. 6 through Sunday, Nov. 8, the tournament featured other schools from the Big Sky Conference, and consisted of three singles flights, and a doubles draw.
In the blue singles flight, consisting of the top players, Janaya Smith left a substantial mark on her competition, downing four opponents before reaching the championship round. The run began against Tracy Dong of Portland State, in a dominate victory where Smith's opponent only won one game in the two set match, 6-1, 6-0. Her next victory came against Idaho's Maria Tavares, this time the match was significantly closer, ending with a tiebreak in the third set, 6-2, 4-6, 7-6(7). In the next couple matches, Smith took out a couple of Gonzaga players in Alex Bourguignon 6-4, 6-2, and Samantha Polayes 6-4, 7-5. In her third straight match against a Gonzaga opponent, Smith would face Sophie Whittle in the finals. Dropping the first set 6-2, Smith wasn't going to leave the championship quietly, she quickly came back taking a set off Whittle 3-6, but would fall just short in the final set 6-4, ending her run.
In the singles red flight, the Eagles received solid play from both freshman Faye Worrall, and junior Erin Blessing, as both reached the semi-finals and fell short of an all Eastern finals match. Worrall began with a win over Gonzaga's Melanie Yates 6-3, 6-4. In her next match she finished with a similar score of 6-3, 6-2 over Taylor Rees of Portland State. Worrall's run was ended when she lost to the eventual champion of the bracket, Idaho's Lucia Badillos 6-3, 6-3. Blessing's victories came against Kristen James of Seattle in a dominant round one finish 6-3, 6-1, and Linda Vink of Montana State 7-5, 6-2. This led to an eventual tough loss against Gonzaga's Domonique Garley 6-3, 6-1.
Other wins in the singles portion of the tournament came from junior Carolina Lopez defeating Stanzi Stuijt from Montana 6-3, 6-4, in round one of the white singles draw, and junior Dani Young with a finals run in the blue back draw bracket. She came away with victories over Montana State, Seattle, and Idaho State players. Her round one match was a long one with two tiebreakers in the first two sets. The match final was 7-6(3), 6-7(4), 10-4, in favor of Young. Her last win in the semi-finals came against Wiebke Boeckmann of Idaho State 6-2, 6-4, before she fell to Belen Barcenilla of Idaho 6-2, 6-1.
EWU also notched a couple wins in the doubles draw with the team of Blessing and freshman Jennifer Lewis earning an 8-5 win over their Portland State counterparts Chaplin/Knecht. The pairing of junior Katrina Domingo and Young, as well as Smith and Worrall both had round one wins, including a dominant 8-1 win over the two-school team of Yang and Scott, from Idaho and Seattle, respectively.
Coach Dustin Hinson shared his thoughts on his team's final play of the 2015 year, "It's exciting to see that our hard work in practice this fall is paying off with good performances in our tournaments. I'm especially pleased with our ability to remain calm and focused during our matches. This has allowed us to play free and relaxed, while also clearing our mind and giving us time to think through what will work strategically during each match. I tell my athletes that they have all the shots necessary to win each match, it's just about selecting the right shot at the right moment to come out on top. They are really taking this to heart and thinking through each match."
Hinson and the team are certainly looking forward to get the dual season started, and continue working to get better. Starting on Saturday, Jan. 9, the Eagles will play their first dual match at Washington, followed by a match against Seattle the next day. Play for the two events begin 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. PST, respectively.