Whitman sisters shine at regional tennis tourney

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PORTLAND — It was a banner day at the USTA/ITA Regional Tennis Championships for the Whitman Missionaries, as Courtney Lawless took home the singles crown for the second straight year, after repeating as champion in doubles earlier Monday with her partner and twin sister, Morgan Lawless.

The tournament was hosted by Lewis & Clark College and featured a field of 64 in singles and 32 in doubles.

Courtney Lawless came into the tournament as the No. 1 seed in singles, and the sisters were also the top seed in doubles. Both semifinal and final matches were played Monday.

In the singles semifinals, Courtney Lawless defeated No. 3-seed Caroline Brigham of Linfield, 6-1, 6-1. In the finals, Lawless pitted against No. 2 seed Saryn Mooney of Whitworth, it was a similar result with the final score 6-1, 6-1.

“They were tougher matches than the score indicated, but Courtney consistently hit the ball very deep and imposed her game on her opponents,” said Whitman head coach John Hein. “She played very well offensively and every time her opponents would start to hit some big shots, Courtney wouldn’t let them back into the match.

“Courtney did an excellent job of focusing on her game, taking it one match at a time and not focusing on the fact that she won last year.”

In the doubles final, the Lawless twins had no trouble with Whitworth’s Mooney and Taylor Pena, the No. 2 seeds, as they eased to a 6-1, 6-2 victory.

Hours earlier in the semifinals, the duo had also won by a wide margin, defeating third-seed Brigham and Mackenzie Fraser of Linfield, 8-2 (the team scoring system was used in all rounds but the finals.)

“Morgan and Courtney combined consistency with getting to the net and winning points,” Hein said. “They’re such a tough team to play because they get to so many balls and hit so many lobs; they don’t beat themselves you have to beat them.”

It looked for awhile as though it might be an all-Whitman doubles final, as Missionaries Katrina Allick and Erin Bell, seeded fourth, gave Pena and Mooney a run for their money before ultimately falling 8-6, in the other semi.

“I was really proud of how the whole team played, and more importantly, how they supported one another during the tournament,” Hein said. “Also, I really want to thank the parents and alums who showed up. Their support and cheering really helped out during a long tournament (three days) like this.”

By winning the regional championships, players automatically qualify for the small college national championships, held in October, in Florida.

In addition, both Courtney and Morgan Lawless earn automatic All-American honors with titles they claimed Monday.

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