Tennis bounces back

Washburn tennis made strides this past week with the Lady Blues clenching a close 5-4 victory March 30 against Emporia State University and the Ichabods easily defeated the Hornets, with a lopsided 8-1 victory.  The Lady Blues then made April fools out of Johnson County Community College in an 8-1 victory.

After a disappointing set of matches in Oklahoma, beating ESU was a welcome change of pace for both Washburn tennis teams.

“The guys just came out very focused, especially against a rival school,” said Dave Alden, Washburn head coach.  “That’s exactly what I was hoping they would do.”

Both women’s teams were undefeated in conference play heading into the match, making the Lady Blues’ victory crucial for their success in the season.

“Emporia had beaten [Southwest Baptist University] and Northwest [Missouri State University],” said Alden.  “If they had beaten us, they probably would have secured the regular season conference championship.  For us to have beaten them on their home court is a good thing.”

A recent setback for the Lady Blues was the injury of Morgan Rainey, team captian, who hurt her leg playing in Oklahoma.

“[Rainey] and Whitley [Zitsch] played a decent doubles match,” said Alden.  “She fought, and then once we finished, and once we were able to clench the match, Morgan went ahead and she just had to stop.  She couldn’t finish.”

“We still need to get health, but everybody stepped up.  We played good doubles, especially our No. 3 doubles.  I’m very proud of [Elektra Hunter and Annie Doole].

Even with Rainey injured and an under-the-weather Elektra Hunter, the Lady Blues still made short work of JCCC on a rescheduled April Fools match.

“We pretty much rolled them, except for that one match,” said junior Whitley Zitsch.  “They’re No. 2 girl was hurt, so she defaulted her match.  We got that match for free, kind of.  The rest of their girls were good, but we were definitely better than them.  None of the matches were really that close.”

Both Washburn teams travel to NWMSU on April 6, then off to Rockhurst University on April 8 before the Lady Blues come back home to play Truman State the next day.

“[NWMSU] will come out and play well at home,” said Alden.  “They always do.  This is our year to go and play all these teams on the road.  I’m very impressed with what we’ve done.  It’s hard riding in a van and getting out to play.  It’s a lot easier when you’re doing it at your home courts.”