Eastern looks for momentum at home


Photo contributed by goeags.com

Dani Young returning the ball during a team’s match.

By Elohino Theodore, Senior Reporter

The EWU women’s tennis team competed in back-to-back competitions against Grand Canyon University and the University of Northern Colorado.

On Feb. 20, the Eagles fell to Grand Canyon, 4-3, overall in a series of close matches.

“Hands down, it was the grittiest I’ve seen our team,” said head coach Dustin Hinson. “I’m really happy with that. We were down in all of the first four singles matches. We lost the first sets, but we came back and took many of those to third sets.”

Hinson said he prepared his team to add some toughness to their game for these matches.

“We had one major focus this week in our practice and as we were approaching these matches,” said Hinson. “It was one word, and it was ‘grit.’ We’ve been working on that as part of our creed.”

Eastern started with doubles matches against Grand Canyon. The No. 1 doubles duo, freshman Janaya Smith and sophomore Katrina Domingo earned the first victory for the Eagles, 6-4.

“We were focusing a lot on our aggression because they’re very aggressive also,” said Domingo. “We haven’t played them before, so we didn’t really know what to expect.”

No. 2 doubles duo, sophomores Erin Blessing and Dani Young won the second doubles match of the day, 6-2. Grand Canyon took the third doubles match from No. 3 doubles duo, freshman Rachel Swindell and sophomore Carolina Lopez, 6-1.

Smith started the singles matches as the No. 1 singles player. In a tough, down-to-the-wire match, Smith fell to Grand Canyon’s Priscilla Annoual in three sets. Smith fell in the first set, 6-1, won the second set, 7-6, and lost the final set, 7-6.

The No. 2 singles player, Blessing, also fell her opponent, 6-2, 6-1.

“[Grand Canyon’s Tatum Prudhomme] was definitely a different player than I’m used to,” said Blessing. “I think I can learn and grow and keep pushing and learning how to play my game style with every different type of player.”

Eastern got a boost from No. 3 singles player Swindell. She won in three sets (1-6, 6-4, 6-4). No. 4 singles player Young fell 7-5, 6-4 in two sets.

No. 5 singles player Domingo won definitively in her first set, 6-0; however, she lost the match as she fell in the last two sets, 6-2, 6-2. No. 6 singles player Lopez finished the day with a victory in three sets, (3-6, 6-4, 10-3).

On Feb. 21, the Eagles fell to Northern Colorado, 4-3, in a Big Sky matchup.

For the second straight day, Eastern was able to beat their opponent in two of three doubles matches. No. 1 team Smith and Domingo won their doubles match, 6-2. No. 2 doubles duo Blessing and Young also got a victory, 7-5.

There were only two victories against Northern Colorado in singles matches. Smith was able to bounce back in her No. 1 singles match, she won 6-1, 6-3. No. 5 singles player Lopez earned a victory for the Eagles, 6-1, 6-0.

Blessing, Swindell and senior Chrissy Uriarte all fell in their singles matches in two sets. Young fell in her singles match in three sets.

Hinson explained what his team needs to do to improve for future matches.

“I thought it was a really good job for us to come and win the doubles point,” said Hinson. “We brought that intensity from the start, so I want to continue that in the singles.”

Hinson said he wants his players to be dynamic in the way they play on the court and always  stay positive. “It’s a chess match,” he said. “Tennis is very mental.”

Eastern will play the University of North Dakota on Feb. 27 at home.