Recap | Box Score
GEORGE FOX 5, WILLAMETTE 4: Bruins Complete Win over Bearcats Five Days Later
NEWBERG, Ore. - With the score tied and one match left, Alissandra Wittrig gave the George Fox University Bruins a 5-4 upset of the regionally-ranked Willamette University Bearcats with a 6-2, 6-4 victory at No. 6 singles in the completion of a rain-suspended Northwest Conference women’s tennis match Sunday here at the GFU campus courts.
The match had originally started five days earlier on Tuesday, when the Bruins took an early lead by winning two of the three doubles. Molly Beaumont and Shaina Inn cruised past the Bearcats’ Sabrina Gutierrez and Shannon Palmer 8-2 at No. 1, and Bethany Nguyen and Marissa Chau edged Hailey Arnold and Emily Funabiki 9-7 at No. 3. The Bearcats took the No. 2 doubles 8-4 as Emily Bee and Denise Poltavski downed the Bruins’ Alyssa Emoto and Cara Griffith.
Only a few games in the singles had been played when rain halted play, and when the match resumed Sunday morning, Willamette assumed control by winning the top three matches. Palmer won a hard-fought contest at No. 1 over Beaumont 6-7 (4-7), 6-1, 6-4, Gutierrez eased past Emoto 6-1, 6-2 at No. 2, and Poltavski took out Inn 6-3, 6-2 at No. 3, giving the Bearcats a 4-2 lead.
The Bruins pulled out close matches at Nos. 4 and 5 to even the match. Griffith hung on in the second set to defeat Bee 6-0, 7-6 (7-3) at No. 4, and Chantelle Hadeed edged Funabiki 7-6 (7-5), 6-4 at No. 5.
As George Fox has only five courts, the No. 6 singles had to wait until a court was open, and it was the last match to finish. With the matches all even at 4-4, Wittrig gave the Bruins the win over the Bearcats, who are ranked No. 14 in the NCAA Division III West Region, by defeating Elise Derby 6-2,6-4.
With the win, George Fox finishes the season with an 8-11 overall record and a 3-9 mark in the conference, tying Lewis & Clark College for seventh in the league standings. The Bruins’ eight wins are tied for the second-most in a season (the 2002 team was 8-9) since the sport was reintroduced to the campus in 1996, and is one off the single-season record (the 2004 team went 9-12).
Willamette is 7-9 overall and 5-7 in the conference, which puts them sixth in the standings in terms of wins and losses. However, because of a new points system being used by the NWC in conjunction with the “round robin-and-a-half” schedule, the Bearcats actually have the same number of points as the two teams with the fourth-best records (6-6) in the conference, the University of Puget Sound and Pacific University, and have the tiebreakers against those two teams in number of fewest sets lost, thus enabling them to make the four-team NWC Tournament.
“This was an amazing way to end the season, defeating a regionally-ranked team,” said George Fox head coach Rick Cruz. “The improvement of these young ladies over the course of the year was fun to watch; they worked hard and were determined to get better, and that attitude really showed in their improved games. In the last few weeks, we were playing some of our best tennis and were competitive against everyone we played. With no seniors, we are already looking forward to next season.”