Calvin Wetzel | Assistant Sports Editor
The Thunder women’s tennis team improved their record to 4-0 on the season with wins over Elmhurst College on Thursday, Sept. 6, and two victories on Saturday over Millikin and Carthage.
On Thursday, the Thunder completed their second consecutive 9-0 sweep to start the year. In doubles competition, the No. 1 doubles team, consisting of junior Sarah Ray and freshman Julie Buursma, defeated Elmhurst’s Brittany Kuehn and Nicole Darga 8-0. The same score favored Wheaton’s No. 3 doubles team, freshman Erika Nelson and sophomore Lauren Schlabach, as they shut out Alexis Adams and Ragan Wilson. Wheaton’s No. 2 doubles pair, senior Marissa Shults and junior Melanie Milling, got down three games to two early but fought back and won the next five games to earn an 8-3 win over Lauren Kuehn and Annie Duggan.
“Melanie and I were trying to figure out what their weaknesses were so that we could play to those, and we focused on winning our service games and coming to the net to finish the points,” said Shults after the victory.
The Thunder faired just as well in the singles matches, taking all six in two sets. Ray won both of her sets against Duggan 6 to 1, while Schlabach defeated Darga 6 to 3 in the first set and 6 to 1 in the second. Elmhurst won multiple games in the first set. The other four singles matches ended with a 6-1 win and a 6-0 win, all in favor of Wheaton. Shults beat Lauren Kuehn, senior Julia Carey defeated Wilson, Buursma earned a victory over Brittany Kuehn, and Nelson completed Wheaton’s sweep with a win over the Blue Jays’ McKennah Lloyd.
“I have been pleased with the team’s play so far this season,” Head Coach Jane Nelson told the Record. “We have a deep team this year. Everyone has improved since last year, and everyone is working hard at practice so the improvement will continue.”
The Wheaton women were once again victorious on Saturday with wins over Millikin and Carthage in Kenosha, Wisc. In their first match of the day, the Thunder earned their third win of the season with another 9-0 sweep over the Lady Reds of Carthage College. For the third time in three matches, Wheaton took all three doubles pro sets. The No. 1 doubles team of Ray and Buursma knocked off Bari Reynolds and Haleigh McPeek 8-3. Also winning 8-3 was the No. 3 doubles tandem Nelson and Schlabach with a win over Kristen Peterson and Holly Weber. Shults and senior Kristin Boyer, the No. 2 doubles pair, defeated Erin Hendrickson and Abbi Howell with a score of 8-4.
Ray, Carey and Boyer each won their singles matches in two sets with identical scores of 6-3 and 6-1. They defeated Reynolds, Peterson and McPeek, respectively. Also winning in two sets for the Thunder were Shults, Buursma and Schlabach. Shults took the first set 6-1 and the second 6-0 over Howell. Buursma bested Weber 6-1 in each of her sets. Hendrickson gave Schlabach a scare in the first set of their match, taking it all the way to a tiebreaking game after the score was knotted at six games apiece, but Schlabach was able to avoid taking Wheaton’s first loss in a set this season as she topped Hendrickson 7-3 in the tiebreaker. She went on to earn a 6-1 victory in the second set to take the match.
Later in the day Wheaton squared off against Millikin University’s squad. The result was once again 9-0 with the Thunder on top of the Big Blue. None of Millikin’s three doubles teams was able to win a single game as Wheaton took all three pro sets 8-0 in doubles competition. It was Ray and Buursma over Brianna Hogan and Cydney Boyd in No. 1 doubles, Carey and Shults over Ashlee Colby and Kelly Commons in No. 2 doubles, and the No. 3 doubles pro set favored Nelson and Schlabach over Ashley Zozokos and Madeline Knott.
After taking all 24 of the games in doubles, Wheaton almost managed to pull off the same feat in singles competition, but Boyd squeaked out a win in the second set of her No. 1 singles match against Ray, falling 6-0 and 6-1. Hogan was forced to forfeit the No. 2 singles match due to illness, giving Schlabach a victory. The other four singles matches each went to the Thunder by scores of 6-0 in both sets. Shults defeated Commons, Carey topped Colby, Buursma beat Zozokos, and Nelson completed Wheaton’s 9-0 victory with a win over Knott.
Wheaton has now won all four of their matches 9-0 to open up the season in dominant fashion.
As for the outlook of the remainder of the 2012 campaign, Shults said, “Our team this year looks like it will be very solid; we have two new freshmen that are both great players.”
Nelson said the returning players bring some talent of their own. “All of our returning players have shown improvement,” Nelson said. “That is what we expect to happen if the young women come to practice daily ready to work hard to make themselves better, but also to make their teammates better. That concept is a big part of our program.”
The Thunder will be in action again tomorrow with home matches against University of Wisconsin-La Crosse at 9:30 a.m. and against Wisconsin-Whitewater at 4:30 p.m.
Photos and Banner credit: Allison Freet
Printed in the September 14, 2012, issue of The Wheaton Record. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.