by Erin Zabarnick
It was a day filled with mixed emotions after the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference women’s tennis tournament was suspended due to the rain.
The University of La Verne squad was set to play Occidental Saturday at the Claremont courts, but 30 minutes into the match the games were cancelled due to the rain. The women waited four hours for the rain to stop but in the end the courts were so filled with water there was no way they could play.
It was decided that finishing the matches would not cause any change to the order of the final conference standings, so all of the matches were canceled, according to the host of the tournament, Cal Lutheran.
“On Saturday we were really optimistic to fight for fifth place. We were all really disappointed,” said Desiree Whipperman, senior and No. 7 singles player. “We had just started doubles when they called the game; we had very few errors and were killing them. I think they got scared that we were stepping up and giving them a hard time during the game.”
On the first day of the tournament Friday at Pomona-Pitzer, the Leopards lost their first match to Redlands, 5-0, but came back in the consolation round, beating Caltech, 6-3.
Head coach Brian Harrison said this was the farthest the team has come in ULV tennis history.
With one loss and one win in the tournament, the ladies were still in the running for fifth place against Occidental. But when the Leopards did not get to finish their match against Occidental, ULV finished in sixth place.
“The girls were geared up to play Occidental and it was an opportunity lost,” Harrison said. “The girls were ahead in the matches against Occidental before the rain started so it was a disappointment to have come so close and not be given the chance to play.”
“It really sucked because we didn’t get to finish the game. They didn’t want to reschedule the game because they said there wouldn’t be enough time before the tournament in Ojai,” said Michelle Tang, junior and No. 4 singles player.
All-Conference Team and Player of the Year were still announced on time. No one from La Verne made all SCIAC but the graduating seniors, Whipperman ended the year with a 14-9 record in her singles and double matches and Paige Hanawalt ended the year with a 11-5 singles record.
La Verne ended the tournament in sixth place, so it was a victory that the woman had come this far but a disappointment that they could not finish out the tournament.
“I think the tournament gave us a good opportunity to come together. When I started here my freshman year we were in dead last so it was a wonderful experience to get this far,” Whipperman said.
“I think the girls really stepped up this year and I think we started scaring teams when they thought they could beat us and they didn’t,” she said.
Even though the team did not get to play for fifth the season ended in triumph with the squad ranking higher than they ever had before. After the SCIAC tournament, the teams’ record is 9-9 overall, 3-6 in conference.
“The season went as expected with us ending the year at 500. The girls were really strong and better girls were playing in the lower spots giving other teams a real challenge. Whipperman, my No. 7 player was definitely a come through player this year,” Harrison said. “It was great to see the girls move up through the last three years and it is great to see the graduating seniors Paige Hanawalt, No. 6 player, and Whipperman do so well.”
The women’s tennis team plans to do just as well next season and improve its SCIAC standing.