Whit's Roberg wins USTA/ITA singles final

Alyssa Roberg and Courtney Lawless team up to win the doubles competition while Roberg takes the singles title.

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SALEM, Ore. - Tennis ace Alyssa Roberg and first-year teammate Courtney Lawless slapped an undeniable Whitman College stamp on the USTA/ITA Pacific Northwest Fall Championships here in Monday's finals at the Courthouse Tennis Club.

Roberg played one of the best matches of her collegiate career in beating Linfield's Abby Olbrich 6-2, 6-4 in the singles final.

Roberg and Lawless then joined forces to grab the doubles crown, scoring a 7-6 (7-2), 6-4 victory over Olbrich and her doubles partner, Caroline Brigham.

The victories send Roberg and Lawless to Mobile, Ala., later this month for the National Small College Tennis Championships.

Missionaries Andrew La Cava, Matt Tesmond and Conor Holton-Burke will also represent Whitman, and the Pacific Northwest, at the national tournament.

La Cava won the singles title at the men's regional tournament, which Whitman hosted two weekends ago, while Holton-Burke and Tesmond captured the doubles title.

Roberg, the No. 2 seed in the singles bracket, didn't lose a set - or very many games for that matter - in blasting her way through the three-day tournament.

Play resumed Monday morning with Roberg scrambling to a 6-3, 6-0 semifinal victory over first-year teammate Morgan Lawless (Courtney's twin sister). Olbrich, the No. 1 singles seed, advanced to the singles final by beating Whitworth Erica Bosman 6-4, 6-2.

Roberg wasted no time taking charge of the final, cruising to a 6-2 win in the first set. She kept up the pressure in the second, moving in front 5-2. Olbrich bounced back momentarily, winning back-to-back games to close the gap before Roberg served out the match.

"Alyssa's service games were very strong today," Whitman coach John Hein said. "Her service games were seldom in doubt, and she found enough breaks to get the victory.

"Abby is obviously a very good player, and she played well today, but Alyssa was definitely the better player today. I don't think I've ever seen Alyssa maintain such a high level of play from start to finish."

Neither player hit many bad shots, Hein said.

"Nearly every point was well played," he said. "One of the two players either hit a winner or forced the other to miss. There weren't very many unforced errors."

Roberg was consistent, smart and aggressive, he added.

Roberg's excellent play, Hein said, was due in part to "all of the extra work she did this summer and fall to raise her fitness level and make herself a stronger player."

That extra fitness helped later in the day as Roberg and Courtney Lawless, the No. 1 seeds in doubles, held off a spirited challenge from Olbrich and Brigham in the doubles final.

The first set was close all the way before ending up in the seven-point tie-breaker. The Whitman duo jumped in front 3-0 and 4-1 before Roberg served out the breaker at 7-2.

"Alyssa and Courtney showed some great energy in the tie-breaker," Hein said.

An early break in the second set allowed Roberg to serve the Missionaries into a 3-1 lead. With Whitman ahead 5-4, Lawless held serve with a drop volley on the final point to close out the match.

"I thought Alyssa and Courtney played well enough to have won the match by a more decisive margin than they did," Hein said. "But Linfield's team hit some great shots and didn't make it easy.

"Alyssa and Courtney kept their composure and didn't get rattled," he said. "They got the big points when they needed them."

Roberg is making her second straight trip to the national fall championships. A year ago, she teamed with Elise Otto (now graduated) to win the regional doubles title and advance to the national tourney.

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