December 5, 2020

Still undefeated: Women’s tennis 11-0; ‘toughest’ match of season up next

Last year, the Webster University women’s tennis team won 13 consecutive matches en route to a record 19-3 season. Through their first 11 matches of 2013, the Gorloks remain unbeaten. Webster won its 11th straight match with an 8-1 win over Missouri Baptist University (MoBap) — an NAIA school that is able to award athletic scholarships — on Tuesday, April 9 at the Webster Groves Tennis Center.

“It feels good,” sophomore Hillary Fitz said. “We’ve definitely bonded a lot, and I think it’s made our playing strong.”

Webster University sophomore Kathleen Kennedy chases a ball that eventually landed out during her doubles match against Missouri Baptist University on Tuesday, April 9 at the Webster Groves Tennis Center. Kennedy possess a 21-0 overall record in her matches in 2013. PHOTO BY BRITTANY RUESS.

Coach Michael Seiner said the depth of the team has been key to its undefeated start to the season.

“I didn’t know how we’d be in the middle of the lineup,” Siener said. “I didn’t know how good we’d be. Lindsey (Hays) is the lone senior, and I kind of knew what to expect from her. Hillary’s been a super plus at 2 spot. She came in halfway through last year and played a little bit at 6. Kaylen (Kress), a freshman, has come in and really played well. Some of the girls who played in the back end have played a couple of spots and held their own.”

One of those players in the middle of the lineup is sophomore Kathleen Kennedy. Kennedy won both her matches against the MoBap Spartans. She was victorious at No. 3 singles 6-3, 3-6, 10-6. She and her doubles partner, Kress, won 8-2 at No. 2 doubles. Kennedy is 21-0 overall in 2013 (11-0 singles, 9-0 doubles). She credits her success to being patient with her shots and taking her matches one point at a time.

Sophomore Mackenzie Wilder, Kress and sophomore Isabella Espinoza are all undefeated in doubles play thus far. Wilder is 8-0 in her doubles matches, Kress holds an 11-0 doubles mark, and Espinoza is 7-0 with a partner.

Against MoBap, Hays won at No. 1 singles 6-3, 6-4. Fitz was victorious at the No. 2 spot 6-1, 6-2. Kress went to a tiebreaker but won her No. 4 singles match in straight sets 6-3, 7-6 (8-6). Wilder — who is the other Gorlok undefeated on the year at 15-0 — won her singles match at No. 5, 6-0, 1-6, 14-12. Espinoza dropped her No. 6 singles contest 4-6, 5-7.

In doubles play, the duo of Hays and Fitz won 8-1 at No. 1, and Wilder and Espinoza won 8-5 at No. 3.

Before the match against MoBap, the Gorloks headed to the Chicago area to take on Aurora University (Ill.) and Dominican University (Ill.) on Sunday, April 7. Webster won 9-0 over Aurora and 8-1 over Dominican. Against Aurora, Hays (No. 1) and Kennedy (No. 4) swept their opponents 6-0, 6-0 in their singles matches.

The Gorloks’ St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference record is also spotless at 4-0. Webster swept Blackburn College (Ill.) 9-0 on Thursday, April 4 in Carlinville, Ill. Fitz swept her opponent 6-0, 6-0 at No. 2 singles, and Kress also won 6-0, 6-0 at the No. 4 spot.

After the 11th consecutive victory, the Gorloks will match up with SLIAC foe Principia College (Ill.). The match will have postseason implications as Principia is right behind the Gorloks in the SLIAC standings. The Panthers (7-3, 4-0 SLIAC) will take their 5-match win streak against Webster on Thursday, April 11 in Elsah, Ill., at 4:30 p.m.

Siener believes the recent matches have been adequate preparation for the Principia match.

“I think the (MoBap) match was good,” Siener said. “I think this was one of our more competitive matches of the year. I thought the Aurora and Dominican matches were probably better than some of the conference teams we’ve played. Prin (Principia) will be another step or two up. That’ll be interesting to see how they transition from playing these teams into playing Prin. It’s going to be another step up.”

Kennedy said the Gorloks have to stay focused in order to topple Principia.

“I think we’re pretty confident,” Kennedy said. “We just have to keep our drive up and attack them right away.”

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