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EWU women’s tennis falls in first round of conference tournament

Lack of experience catches up to Eagles, despite record breaking season

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EWU women’s tennis falls in first round of conference tournament

Sophomore Zoey Nelson swings at the Big Sky Conference championships on April 25. EWU lost to Southern Utah in the first round of the tournament 4-3.

Sophomore Zoey Nelson swings at the Big Sky Conference championships on April 25. EWU lost to Southern Utah in the first round of the tournament 4-3.

EWU Athletics

Sophomore Zoey Nelson swings at the Big Sky Conference championships on April 25. EWU lost to Southern Utah in the first round of the tournament 4-3.

EWU Athletics

EWU Athletics

Sophomore Zoey Nelson swings at the Big Sky Conference championships on April 25. EWU lost to Southern Utah in the first round of the tournament 4-3.

By Drew Lawson, Reporter

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Coming up short

The women’s tennis team failed to capitalize on the most successful conference record in program history, losing 4-3 to Southern Utah in the Big Sky Championship quarterfinals on April 25, in Phoenix.

EWU won the doubles point and earned singles victories from sophomore Rylee Braeden and freshman Madeline Lamoreaux, but Zoey Nelson, Faye Worrall, Louise Waite and Yasmin Mansouri fell in their matches. EWU head coach Dustin Hinson attributed the loss to a lack of experience.

Added pressure

“When you get down to playing in the conference tournament, there’s a little bit of added pressure,” Hinson said. “I have a very young team, the top six are freshmen and sophomores. It was feeling the pressure of the moment. When that hits you, maybe we (didn’t) handle it as well.”

Hinson said the pressure of facing elimination made them tighter, and didn’t allow EWU to execute the way they normally would. He expects the tournament experience will ease the pressure in coming years.

“As we continue to grow on the court and as we’re used to dealing with these conference tournament situations, I think we’ll be able to handle that situation better in the future,” Hinson said.

Program best conference record

After going 8-2 in BSC play and 12-9 overall, EWU finished in a three-way tie for second place in the conference with Idaho and Weber State. The Eagles didn’t have the tiebreaker over either school, so they were seeded No. 4 in the conference tournament, matching them up against No. 5 Southern Utah.

It was the first time in Hinson’s seven seasons as head coach that EWU was seeded higher than No. 6. Hinson said he looks beyond statistics when evaluating a season.

“There’s a lot of positives to take,” Hinson said. “We certainly got great results, but I try and look at what led to those results … The biggest thing I take away as a coach is that the culture of our program is work ethic, energy and having fun. The results will take care of themselves.”

EWU finished the 2019 season 8-3 in conference and 12-10 overall. Lamoreaux was the top singles player at 14-8 overall. Lamoreaux and Braeden were 15-5 as a doubles pair, while Nelson and Waite were 11-3.

In the final week of the regular season, Braeden became the first Eagle since 2015 to be named BSC Player of the Week after posting a 4-0 record.

Returning players for next season

EWU returns many of its top players  next year, including Nelson, Braeden, Mansouri and Waite. Worrall, Moriah Austin and Jennifer Lewis are graduating, while Lamoreaux is transferring to the University of Utah. Braeden said it will take teamwork to replace the players EWU is losing.

“It’s a team effort and we all have to do our part,” Braeden said. “Hopefully the people who are replacing the people leaving can put in their part too.”

Returning EWU players will look ahead to their next opportunity on the court, for the 2019 fall season, which starts in October.

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EWU women’s tennis falls in first round of conference tournament