Whitworth Women's Tennis Wins 2009 NWC Title - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

Whitworth Women's Tennis Wins 2009 NWC Title

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YAKIMA, Wash. -- Linh Aven and Mya Towne came from behind to win a crucial doubles match, sparking Whitworth to a 6-3 win over Linfield in the championship match of the 2009 Northwest Conference women's tennis tournament on Saturday afternoon at the Yakima Tennis Center. The Pirates claim their first NWC women's tennis title since 1997.

In addition, Whitworth was well-represented on the 2009 All-Northwest Conference women's tennis team.

Whitworth (21-4) earns the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III tournament. The regionals will take place May 8-10 at a location that will not be determined for two weeks.

Linfield (17-5) saw its seven-year reign as NWC champions come to an end.

The teams traded early blows in doubles. Justine Hays and Katie Staudinger of Whitworth improved to 17-2 this season with an 8-2 win over Kiana Nip and Sarah Watanabe in the #3 match. But Linfield's Sallie Katter and Abby Olbrich tied the score with an 8-4 win over Rachel Burns and Alli Marshall at #1.

The championship may have turned during the #2 doubles match. Aven and Towne were down a break at 6-3 to the Wildcat team of Sophie Larson and Sarah Click. But the Pirates rallied to tie the set at 6-6. After Larson and Click retook a 7-6 lead, Aven and Towne won the next three games to pick up a tense 9-7 victory.

After the championship went to singles play, Linfield's Olbrich tied the match at 2-2 when she defeated Marshall 6-2, 6-0 in the #2 flight. But Burns gave the Pirates the point right back when she defeated Katter 6-0, 6-2 at #1 singles.

Whitworth would not lose another point until after the title was clinched. Staudinger gave the Bucs a 4-2 lead when she defeated Watanabe 6-2, 6-1 at #6 singles. Erica Bosman then clinched the championship for the Pirates when she finished a 6-4, 6-2 win over Click at #5 singles.

Aven gave Whitworth the sixth point of the match when she defeated Larson 7-6 (9), 6-4 at #3 singles. Linfield's Nip edged Towne 4-6, 6-4, 1-0 (11-9) at #4 singles for the final Wildcat point.

Several Pirates, including head coach Jo Wagstaff, were honored by the NWC. Wagstaff was named 2009 NWC Women's Coach of the Year, based on voting by her colleagues within the conference. It is her second such award.

Burns and Marshall were both selected as First Team All-NWC honorees. Towne, Bosman and Staudinger were all named to the All-NWC Second Team. Burns is a two-time First Team winner, while Staudinger has been chosen to the Second Team for the second year in a row.

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