WALLA WALLA — A day after a pair of Whitman first-years surprised the rest of the conference, sophomore twins Courtney and Morgan Lawless did exactly what they were expected to do on Sunday. They won, and won, and won some more, as the Missionaries continued their best ever showing at the USTA/ITA Fall Regional championships.
Playing without three-year No. 1 singles player Alyssa Roberg in the singles bracket, Whitman still managed to match their two-semifinalist showing in last year’s tournament.
Morning showers in Walla Walla wetted the outdoor tennis courts at Whitman College, but they did nothing to stop the Lawless twins.
After dropping just one game in advancing to the round of 16, second seed Courtney Lawless picked up where she left off in a 6-1, 6-0 victory over ninth-seeded Payton McGriff of Pacific Lutheran to advance to the quarterfinals, where she squared off with teammate Jenna Dobrin, and Lawless rolled to a 6-1, 6-2 victory to advance to the semifinals.
There, she will face Olivia Cornell of Lewis and Clark.
Fifth-seeded Morgan Lawless beat Whitworth’s Taylor Pena 6-1, 6-2 to advance to the quarters, where she met Aurora Garrison in the match of the day.
After dropping just one game on her way to the round of 16, Garrison toppled Whitman’s Kate Rubinstein 6-0, 6-3.
In the quarters, Morgan Lawless imposed her will in the first set, forcing Garrison to play her preferred baseline game. That didn’t prevent Garrison from keeping the set close. The two traded breaks and holds until the set was knotted up at 6-6, but Morgan was able to handle the pressure better and won the tiebreaker and the set. Shortly thereafter, Morgan suffered a classic emotional letdown after the tense tiebreaker, and Garrison jumped out to a 0-3 lead in the second. Lawless battled back to 2-3, but Garrison held then broke to extend her lead to 2-5. From there, Lawless won three games to knot the second set at 5-5. She then finished the comeback by breaking a dispirited Garrison and holding to punch her ticket into the semifinals.
There, she will meet Willamette’s Denise Poltavski.
After the Lawless twins were safely in the semifinals of the singles bracket, they returned to the court in the afternoon with their partners to continue their winning ways. Courtney and Roberg, the No. 1 seeds and defending champions, played textbook doubles in an 8-0 victory over a fifth-seeded team from Lewis and Clark of Olivia Cornell and Gillian Lowe.
In the semifinals, they finally ran into some stiff competition from Izzy Boris and Lisa Osepyan (also Pioneers), but they persevered for a 8-5 win to advance to the finals.
On the other side of the draw, Morgan Lawless and Jenna Dobrin met No. 3 seeds Aurora Garrison and Claudia Lew. Dobrin, who defeated Lew in singles, and Lawless, who defeated Garrison in singles, eliminated their respective opponents a second time, tallying a 8-5 upset victory. Their semifinal match was much less competitive, as they eased their way into the finals with an 8-1 victory over Beaumont and Inn from George Fox. The pair of semifinal victories ensured that a Whitman doubles team will win the regional tournament for a third year in a row.
Whitman’s Kate Kunkel-Patterson and Maddy Webster teamed to bounce back from their main draw defeat to win the consolation bracket with a victory over Ecton and Watanbe of Linfield.
Play continued this morning on Whitman’s outdoor courts, with semifinal singles matches starting at 9 a.m. The singles final will begin an hour after the completion of the semifinals, and Roberg and Courtney Lawless will play Dobrin and Morgan Lawless for the doubles crown when the singles tournament is over.