Bears take Lindenwood for back-to-back wins at home after long hiatus

| Sports Reporter

Junior Jaclyn Bild serves the ball as she defeats Allison Gilles of Lindenwood University 6-4, 6-1 in No. 2 singles on Wednesday. The Bears coasted to a 7-2 victory over Lindenwood, giving them their second consecutive home victory.

After a six-month hiatus from playing at home, the Washington University women’s tennis team delivered its second consecutive home win last Wednesday with a 7-2 victory over Lindenwood University.

The Bears jumped out to a 3-0 lead, sweeping doubles competition. Doubles teams consisting of freshman Kate Klein and junior Karina Kocemba, and juniors Jaclyn Bild and Elise Sambol, each snagged 8-2 victories. Senior Allison Dender and junior Kalee Cassady also picked up an 8-3 win at No. 3 doubles.

“We found out a few years ago that doubles is really important,” head coach Kelly Stahlhuth said. “It just makes it so much better to have two points on doubles or three, just in terms of taking a little bit of the pressure off [singles].”

Just as Stahlhuth forecast, the Lady Bears played with less pressure in singles on their way to taking four of the six singles matches. In those four victories, none of the winners, Klein, Bild, Kocemba or freshman Paige Madara, dropped a set.

Bild, who captured a 6-0, 6-1 victory in second singles, attributed her success to being consistent and taking advantage of key opportunities. “I think it was moving the player around, just getting everything back and trying to make minimal mistakes,” Bild said. “And then taking opportunities, like if I get a short ball, to attack.”

Kocemba, who won a 6-0, 6-1 match in third singles, also tried to negate the windy playing conditions and outlast her opponent. “I think I was more consistent than she was, and had it together a little bit more,” Kocemba said.

In their last two matches, the Bears have enjoyed returning home and have thrived in front of the home crowd. “It’s definitely exciting to have the home advantage, because we have people to come support us. It definitely motivates us,” Bild said. “But it’s always important at the end of the day to bring our game to the table and win no matter where we are.”

With only one more match until the Madison Invitational in Wisconsin on April 2-3, and three more matches until the UAA Championships in Cleveland on April 16-18, the team feel like they have hit their stride and know they must play their best tennis at this point in the season.

“We’ve been working really hard on fitness and execution of our shots. We just have to be able to execute, and that’s what we’ve been working on in practice,” Stahlhuth said. “Madison this weekend is going to be a huge opportunity for us, and I think we’re going to be ready for it.”

The Bears complete their home stand on Tuesday, taking on Missouri Baptist University at 4:30 p.m.

“I do think we are where we need to be,” Stahlhuth said. “I think we’ve got everything on the right schedule, and now we just have to be able to deliver it when we need it.”

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