Whit women tops in doubles play

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WALLA WALLA - Whitman's women performed true to seeding and home court advantage in the USTA/ITA PAcific Northwest tennis championships.

In doubles, senior Elise Otto and sophomore teammate Alyssa Roberg overcame Linfield's Abby Olbrich and Sarah Click 6-3, 7-6 (7-4) to claim Monday afternoon's USTA/ITA Pacific Northwest tennis doubles title.

Otto and Roberg advance to the National Small College Championships, which takes place next month in Mobile, Ala.

And in singles, Willamette's top-seeded Natalia Agarycheva scrambled past Whitman sophomore Alyssa Roberg 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7-4) Monday morning.

Agarycheva, a senior, advanced to play Linfield College junior Abby Olbrich, the No. 2 seed, for the singles title. Olbrich slipped past third-seeded Rachel Burns, a Whitworth University senior, 6-1, 6-4 in Monday's other semifinal.

At last fall's tournament, Olbrich beat Agarycheva in three sets for the singles title and teamed with Sally Katter (now graduated) for the doubles crown.

Otto, who was on foreign study last fall, won the singles title two years ago and teamed with Katie Oost (now graduated) for the doubles title.

In Monday's doubles final, Otto and Roberg bolted to a quick 3-0 lead in the first set and led 4-1 after staving off a break point on Roberg's serve. Otto and Roberg held their next service games to polish off a 6-3 victory.

Neither side had much luck holding serve in a second set marked by six breaks. Linfield led 2-0 at the outset, but Whitman took five of the next seven games and had Otto serving for the match at 5-4.

Olbrich and Click refused to fold, turning back three match points for a service break that squared the match at 5-5.

After the score moved to 6-6, Otto and Roberg wasted no time taking charge of the tie-breaker.

Both players hit winners on the first two points to key a 4-0 Whitman start. The Linfield duo rallied to within 5-3 and saved a fourth match point before a long volley gave Whitman the tie-breaker (and the match) at 7-4.

"It was a good match and a good finish to a great tournament," Whitman women's coach John Hein said. "There were a lot of close matches."

The doubles consolation finals also were held Monday afternoon with Whitman junior Charlotte Scott and first-year teammate Leah Siegel posting an 8-5 victory over Willamette's Katie Huber and Emily Bee.

Roberg, the No. 4 seed in singles, shook off an early service break in her first set with Agarycheva and won five straight games to take a 1-0 lead.

In the second set, Agarycheva survived long battles on her last two service games to win 6-4 and square the match at one set apiece.

After the two players traded service breaks early in the third set, Agarycheva broke Roberg again for a 4-3 lead.

Agarycheva was serving for the match at 5-4, but Roberg broke back and the set soon deadlocked at 6-6.

With the tie-breaker even at 1-1, Agarycheva won three straight points to take charge. After Roberg closed to 5-3, Agarycheva took two of the next three points to nail down the set and match.

In consolation play Monday morning, Willamette's Katie Huber got past Linfield's Sarah Watanabe 6-0, 6-1 in the final.

In a consolation doubles semifinal, Whitman junior Charlotte Scott and first-year teammate Leah Siegel defeated Pacific's Rachel Mizuno and Stephanie Villegas 8-4.

Scott and Siegel are playing Huber and her Willamette teammate, Emily Bee, in the doubles consolation final.

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