WALLA WALLA — The Whitman College women’s tennis team is headed to Claremont, Calif., for the opening round of the NCAA Tournament against Redlands at 2 p.m. Friday.
There are six teams in the region — two receiving first-round byes — with the single-elimination winner advancing to the championships May 20-22 in Kalamazoo, Mich.
Redlands (19-3) is currently ranked 11th nationally and prevailed over Whitman in their earlier meeting this season, 5-4, at UC Santa Cruz. Redlands led after doubles, 2-1, and went onto secure the match with three singles victories at 4, 5 and 6.
Whitman got victories in singles from Courtney Lawless, Alyssa Roberg and Morgan Lawless.
“We’re really excited to have the opportunity to play in a really strong region with teams that we are familiar with,” Whitman coach John Hein said. “Redlands is a great team, which they’ve showed all year long, including beating us. So, Friday should be a great match. This team loves competing, so we’re just really excited to go and play this weekend.”
Whitman (17-3) gained an automatic berth into the tourney by way of winning the Northwest Conference tournament, defeating both opponents 5-0, after a perfect 12-0 conference season.
Redlands received an at-large berth after losing in the SCIAC championship match to Pomona-Pitzer, 7-2.
Whitman will compete in a bracket replete with highly ranked teams. Awaiting the winner of the Whitman vs. Redlands match is No. 10 ranked Pomona-Pitzer.
The bracket also includes No. 2 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (which has a first-round bye), No. 14 UC Santa Cruz and the University of Texas at Dallas.
Heading into the tourney, the Missionaries have won seven straight matches, including a home win against regional rival Lewis-Clark State (No. 7 NAIA) and boasts NWC Player of the Year Courtney Lawless along with fellow first teamers Roberg and Morgan Lawless, and second-team selection Jenna Dobrin.