Women’s tennis competes in Midwest Invitational

| Sports Editor

The No. 17 Washington University women’s tennis team (12-3) traveled to Madison, Wis., for the 2011 Midwest Invitational as the fifth seed and finished in third place overall with victories over No. 11 Gustavus Adolphus College and No. 14 DePauw University. The team’s only loss came to No. 3 University of Chicago.

The Bears were down three players at various times this past weekend: senior captain Elise Sambol, sophomore Kate Klein, and freshman Betsy Edershile.

“It’s difficult. We keep dropping people from our starting lineup,” freshman Theresa Petraskova said. “But we adapted well to the situation and changed our lineup a bit and still did really well even with all the injuries.”

In doubles against Gustavus on Saturday, the team took a crucial 2-1 lead, proving that its doubles play is just as strong as its singles. While the Bears dropped the No. 1 doubles match, they triumphed in the other two doubles matches to pick up two points. Sophomore Paige Madara and freshman Corinne Rauck took No. 2 doubles, 8-6, to improve their doubles record to 6-0, while a new pair, junior Natalie Tingir and sophomore Katie Helfgott, won a close 9-8 (8-6) match at No. 3 doubles.

“[The team is] playing phenomenal at doubles by putting balls away and playing aggressive,” head coach Kelly Stahlhuth said. “Even if they are down a couple points, they are figuring out how to come back. The great thing about doubles is they aren’t quitting and they know they can win.”

The Bears gained the singles split they needed to come out with a victory. Tingir won in three sets at No. 2 and the team also won at the No. 5 and No. 6 positions. “One of our goals this season was to beat Gustavus, so we went out there ready to play,” Petraskova said. “When we were up 4-3 and just needed one more singles match to win, we all started cheering and supporting our team.”

Earlier in the day, the Bears earned two points in singles play against Chicago, but then dropped the No. 1 doubles to lose the match 5-2. Madara came back to win at No. 4 and Rauck won the match at No. 5.

“Chicago has always been a difficult team for us to play; we always have good matches against them that could have gone either way,” Petraskova said. “They always push us and make us work.”

Overcoming a 2-1 deficit, the team picked up its first victory of the weekend against DePauw University on Friday, winning 6-3 in the invitational’s quarterfinals.

Madara and Rauck were the team’s sole victors in doubles play at No. 3, pulling out a 9-8, 9-7 win. The Bears lost at both No. 1 and No. 2 doubles, only earning one point going into singles play.

Wash. U. had to win four of the six singles matches to gain the overall victory. The team only lost at the No. 1 position, posting an impressive 5-1 record in singles play against the Tigers.

All five of the singles victories came in straight sets, but several were still very close. Sambol’s 7-6 (14-12), 7-5 victory at No. 4 was the closest of the day.

“[Against] DePauw, we were down 2-1, but we knew that if we got a point in singles we would win,” Stahlhuth said. “We got that one-point and then the team pulled through, winning five singles matches.”

The Bears return to action against McKendree University in Lebanon, Ill., on Thursday, April 14.

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