WALLA WALLA - With five first-year players making contributions on their home courts, Whitman College rolled to its sixth straight women's tennis victory on Friday with a 9-0 Northwest Conference triumph over Lewis & Clark.
Whitman ran its record to 6-2 on the season and 5-1 in the NWC while keeping Lewis & Clark winless. The Pioneers slid to 0-6 overall and 0-5 in conference.
Whitman took control early with a sweep in the opening round of doubles, which were played on the outdoor courts.
But junior Kate Kunkel-Patterson and first-year teammate Sara Finkleman needed a big rally to complete the sweep at the No. 3 spot against Esa Grigsby and Makena McCluskey. The Missionary duo fell behind 7-4 before taking four of the next five games to square the match at 8-8 and force a tie-breaker.
Kunkel-Patterson and Finkleman then "played their best tennis," noted Whitman coach John Hein, to win the breaker 7-4.
Sisters Courtney and Morgan Lawless, two more first-year Whitman players, shared in the other two wins in doubles.
Courtney Lawless teamed with junior Alyssa Roberg for a 8-0 romp over Olivia Sweetman and Jill Coleman in the No. 1 doubles slot. Morgan Lawless and senior Emily Rolston were 8-3 winners at No. 2 doubles, beating Gillian Lowe and Lisa Osepyan.
Roberg at No. 2 singles and Morgan Lawless at No. 3 singles were the first to finish in singles, clinching the overall team victory. Roberg downed Coleman 6-2, 6-1 while Lawless blanked Lowe 6-0, 6-0.
Hannah Palkowitz, another first-year player, made it 6-0 Whitman with a 6-1, 6-0 victory over Elisa Alway at No. 5 singles, which was played in the Bratton Tennis Center.
In the day's most competitive singles match, and the only other one played indoors, first-year Missionary Erin Minuth rallied for a 4-6, 6-2, 11-9 win over Justine Minette at No. 6.
Other winners in singles were Courtney Lawless at No. 1, where she beat Osepyan 6-0, 7-5, and rookie Maddy Webster, who scored at 6-3, 6-4 victory over Sweetman at No. 4.