Missionary women advance to bracket play


MOBILE, Ala. - Senior Alyssa Roberg and first-year teammate Courtney Lawless were 6-1, 7-5 winners in a Wednesday doubles play-in match at the USTA/ITA National Small College Championships in Mobile, Ala.

Roberg and Lawless, the Pacific Northwest doubles champions, scrambled past the Southwest regional representatives, Mackenzie Knopp and Stephanie Williamson, two first-year players from Trinity (Texas).

The victory gives the Whitman duo the eighth and final spot in the tournament's eight-team doubles bracket, which has its first-round matches set for today.

After the Trinity duo took the first game of the first set, Roberg and Lawless reeled off six straight games to seize command.

Knopp and Williamson fought back in the second set, getting a service break to lead 4-2. Roberg and Lawless countered with the next three games to regain the lead at 5-4.

With the Whits ahead 6-5 and Trinity serving, Knopp and Williamson picked off the first two points, moving within two points of forcing a set tie-breaker. But Roberg and Lawless responded again, reeling off four straight points to finish the match.

The last of those four points was the "longest point of the match with both teams executing great shots before we finally got the point and the win," Whitman coach John Hein said.

"Tons of credit to Trinity," Hein added. "It was gratifying to see some really good tennis from both sides."

The singles play-in match for this week's tournament also took place Wednesday with Roberg, the Pacific Northwest singles champ, falling 6-2, 6-3 to Trinity's Knopp.

"Both players displayed some amazing tennis but honestly it wasn't the cleanest match and Mackenzie was a bit tougher at the right times," Hein said. "I'm excited to see how she does in the main draw. She's a very good young player."

In today's first-round of doubles, Roberg and Lawless face Kendra Higgins and Stephanie Kung, two seniors from the University of Chicago. Roberg and Higgins are part of the opening round match-up for a second straight year, although both have different playing partners this time around.

A year ago, Roberg and Elise Otto (now graduated) lost 6-2, 6-2 to Higgins and Chrissy Hu, a team that continued on to win the tournament's doubles title.

Higgins and her Chicago teammates also enjoyed plenty of success at last spring's NCAA national championships. After they lost in the team semifinals, Higgins advanced to the singles title match before losing. Kung made it to the singles Round of 16 before being eliminated.

Higgins finished last spring with a No. 3 national ranking in singles while Kung was No. 6.

This week's USTA/ITA tournament is taking place at the Copeland-Cox Tennis Center.


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