The 2016 season wrapped up with some success for the women’s tennis team after a slow start that included a seven-game losing streak.
The Leopards finished with 7-14 overall and a 4-5 in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
That record was good for fifth place in the conference.
“The team played well together and at the (SCIAC championship) tournament we continually found a way to win,” senior Shenelle Trujillo said.
Junior Bridget Etchegaray was named to Second Team All-SCIAC, her second all-conference honor.
“It is a really nice honor to have after the hard work this season.” Etchegaray said. “Hopefully I can do even better next season.”
She had an overall singles record of 4-6 and 5-5 in doubles play alongside partner sophomore Janae Chinn.
The 2015 All-American took over the top spots on La Verne’s lineup after the departures of some of the best players in program history like Andrea Madrigal, Jeanette Losaria and Laina Matsuda.
Heading into the Feb. 28 match against Christopher Newport University, La Verne seemed to be on a steady pace with a 3-3 record, but then the Leopards suffered a seven-game losing streak, during the middle of the season.
Things turned around after they beat conference opponents the Chapman Panthers April 1 at the Claremont Club.
The Leopards beat the Panthers for a 7-2 victory and snapped its losing streak.
La Verne dominated in singles play going 5-1, as Etchegaray dropped the only singles match for La Verne.
Freshman Savannah Fisher bageled her opponent in back-to-back sets, 6-0, 6-0. Sophomore Madison Madewell also dominated her opponent, 6-1, 6-1.
“This season we had pretty much a whole new team,” Etchegaray said. “Everyone had to step up and we did.”
Before heading into the tournament, La Verne was facing a three-game losing streak. La Verne snapped by edging Caltech, 5-4, April 30 at the Caltech Tennis Courts.
This gave the Leopards some confidence heading into the SCIAC championships.
“Heading into the SCIAC tournament, we were ready to play and stay focused no matter whom our opponent was,” Trujillo said.
The Leopards went into the tournament with a 5-13 record, and placed fifth in the tournament.
On May 6 against Cal Lutheran, the Leopards lost, 5-1. The match in Thousand Oaks was played to a decision due to inclement weather.
The loss set up a matchup with Occidental the next day at the Pauley Tennis Complex in Claremont with La Verne topping them, 6-3. La Verne the next day would emerge victorious topping Caltech, 6-3.
Etchegaray said that they had some tough losses, but that gave them the fire they needed to compete in the tournament.
“Both matches were tough,” Etchegaray said. “I’m super proud of our team leaving it all on the court.”
Heading into next season, the Leopards will look to bounce back.
The team has things to improve on both individually and collectively, but bringing back its top three singles players should make things smoother.
“Next season I hope we can continue building on our strengths and gaining confidence as we go,” Etchegaray said.
La Verne is losing only Trujillo to graduation this year. She clinched fifth place for the Leopards at the SCIAC championships, winning back to back sets, 6-4 and 6-1.
“I’m going to miss all the girls on my team a lot,” Trujillo said. “It’s hard to play a collegiate sport but everything we’ve accomplished and the friendships I’ve developed has made it an experience I’ll never forget.”
Jose Brambila can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.