Survival of the Fittest: Women’s Tennis Championship

Source: Reaghan Lesh

The weekend of April 19th and 20th was the conference tournament for women’s tennis. The tournament started on Friday and went into Saturday. It was supposed to take place at Forest Park in St. Louis, Missouri but got moved to Principia College due to weather. Principia is located along the Mississippi River near Grafton, Illinois.  

GU Women’s Tennis team. Source: Greenville Women’s Tennis.

Greenville’s head coach for men’s and women’s tennis is Brett Brannon. Brannon has been the head coach of men’s tennis since 2002 and took over the position as head women’s tennis coach in 2017. He attended Greenville College himself. He played number one singles and number one doubles and earned team MVP two times. Coach Brannon graduated from Greenville College in 1997 with many more awards and accomplishments. The assistant women’s tennis coach is Lexi Baysinger, who is also an alumnus of Greenville College. She played soccer and tennis at Greenville.

On Friday at 2:00 PM, Greenville beat Westminster five to two. This qualified the Lady Panthers for the championship. In the match versus Westminster, GU swept in doubles. Claudia Principal from Barquisimeto, Venezuela and Courtney Blaser from Moline, Illinois won their singles to give Greenville the win.

Lady Panthers before the championship match. Source: SLIAC

Heading into Saturday at 11:00 AM Greenville played Principia for the SLIAC championship. Number one doubles lost to Principia four to eight and number two doubles won in a close match eight to six. The final number three doubles match was eight to five, Greenville.

Claudia Principal and Courtney Blaser in their doubles match. Source: SLIAC

The Lady Panthers were winning two to one at the start of the singles matches. Greenville’s one, two, and three singles lost and their five and six singles won. At this point in the day, Greenville was tied with Principia four to four.  There was one match still going that would decide who won the conference. Number four Courtney Blaser was competing against Principia’s number four Hallie Jones to determine the final outcome of the tournament. Blaser won the first set six to two. The second set was lengthy because Blaser and Jones went to deuce (this means they had to play two extra points and win both consecutively) almost every game.

Jones came out on top to win the second set seven to five. The player has to win two out of three sets so this took them into the third set. Jones took an early lead and won the first four games. Blaser continued to fight, breaking Jones’ serve then holding her own serve bringing the score to four to two. Both Jones and Blaser took medical time outs, Blaser’s before the third set and Jones’ right before match point.

Principia and Greenville went back and forth with the set being five to four, in favor of Principia. They started their rally of match point in the final game. The game point went to Principia giving them the championship title with Jones’ win in the third set (six to four). This match lasted over three hours, no more than four. Both players were exhausted. Blaser said, “The video shows that Hallie Jones falling to the ground because she was so tired but so did I!” It was an exciting battle. 

Bailey Pearce at the match. Source: SLIAC

This is the farthest that Greenville Women’s Tennis has ever gone and the closest finals match in conference history. The women’s tennis team finished with the record of twelve wins and six losses. This is an improvement from last years record being nine wins and eight losses. Coach Brannon, who received SLIAC’s Women’s Tennis Coach of the Year, says he’s ready for the next season, “There are no seniors graduating, so the team will be back next year even stronger.” 

Be on the lookout as we witness next year’s team dominate!

Media by Reaghan Lesh


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