Cougs impress at Gonzaga Invitational

Cougs win 21 out of 30 matches

The+WSU+womens+tennis+team+celebrates+Fifa+Kumhoms+win+during+an+NCAA+collegiate+tennis+match+against+UW%2C+April+15.

KHOI VU

The WSU women’s tennis team celebrates Fifa Kumhom’s win during an NCAA collegiate tennis match against UW, April 15.

BRANDON WILLMAN, Evergreen reporter

“We’re fighters,” said head coach Raquel Atawo before the invitational.

And fight they did. The fight paid off as well, as they overall had an extremely strong performance. In each of the three days, they would win more than they would lose and have a team record of 21-9.

Last season, the team went 8-15 and struggled at several points throughout the season. However, at the beginning of the fall 2022 season, they looked to bring a new sense of confidence to the court.

The Gonzaga Invitational is a hidden duel format, meaning that in one day WSU plays two separate schools. Against the first school, WSU played six singles matches and against the second school, WSU played three doubles matches.

“I actually really prefer the hidden duels especially for the newcomers for the experience and secondly, it feels like a team match as opposed to playing for yourself,” Atawo said prior to the invitational.

The hidden duel format in the fall invitational acts as a pre-season for the team, mimicking the style of their regular season it prepares the Cougs in a different way than practice can.

Friday 

Day one was a great start to the tournament for the Cougs. They would go 5-1 overall in their singles matches against University of New Mexico and would go 1-2 in doubles against University of Portland.

Two Cougs made their collegiate debuts, with both taking wins. Yura Nakagawa would win in straight sets 6-1, 7-5. The second debut was by Eva Alvarez Sande who would also win in straight sets 6-1, 6-2.

In the other singles matches, Maxine Murphy would fall in her comeback attempt by a score of 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (3), Elyse Tse would win 6-4, 6-0, Fifa Kumhom would take her match 6-4, 6-1 and finally, sophomore Stefaniia Mikhailova would snag her first WSU singles win 6-1, 4-6, 6-2.

Although singles played extremely well, doubles started their weekend slightly shakier, winning only one match.

Yang Lee and Eva Alvarez Sande would get that win for the Cougars by a score of 6-4. With duos Fifa Kumhom and Elyse Tse as well as Maxine Murphy and Yura Nakagawa both falling by scores of 6-4.

Saturday 

By far the best day of the weekend for the team, as they would only lose one match out of all possible nine. They would boast a clean 6-0 day in singles and go 2-1 in doubles action.

In singles competition, WSU would take on Portland and utterly dominate the Pilots. All six matches would conclude quickly with the Cougs winning in straight sets.

Murphy won 6-1, 6-4, Nakagawa took the win 6-4, 6-3, Alvarez Sande looked strong and got the win 6-1, 6-4 and Tse had a dominant second set winning 6-4, 6-1. Kumhom withheld a fight from her opponent to take it 6-1, 7-5 and finally Mikhailova won 6-1, 6-4.

Doubles action was against the hosting Gonzaga and kept the winning ways going for the Cougs, besting the Bulldogs in two out of the three matches.

The duo of Lee/Alvarez Sande looked amazing winning a clean sweep 6-0. Kumhom/Tse would be unable to get momentum and fall 6-2 and Murphy/Nakagawa would best the competition 6-3.

Sunday 

On the final day of the tournament, WSU took on Gonzaga in singles competition and New Mexico in doubles.

While it would overall still be a great weekend, the third day would make the Cougs look human.

In singles action, they would split the matches, winning three and losing three. In doubles, they would take two out of three.

In two of the matches that the Cougs lost in singles action, it would take three sets to decide a winner, proving that they were very close to having a truly dominant weekend. Those two matches were Murphy falling 6-4, 2-6, 7-5 and Nakagawa losing two straight and overall falling 5-7, 6-2, 6-3.

The only other loss was from Kumhom who ran out of steam after an ultra competitive first set, falling 7-5, 6-0.

The three wins in singles were by Alvarez Sande (6-3, 6-4), Tse (7-6, 6-3) and Mikhailova (1-6, 6-1, 6-2).

In doubles competition, Kumhom/Tse would take their match 6-1 and Lee/Alvarez Sande would win 6-4 to take the overall win for the team. Murphy/Nakagawa would finish the weekend 1-2 together, falling in their match 6-3.

The best performance of the weekend would have to be by Alvarez Sande, who could not stop winning. She would go 3-0 in her singles competition as well as 3-0 in her doubles competition.

Overall, it was an incredibly strong start by the Cougs and they will look to build off this performance going forward.

They play next in the Washington Invitational in Seattle on Friday through Sunday.