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Published April 27th, 2011
Gaels Take Third in WCC Tournament Play
By Caitlin Graveson
Senior Alex Poorta was 14-7 on the year and 8-0 against WCC opponents. Photo Tod Fierner

Saint Mary's women's tennis looked to repeat at the West Coast Conference Championships. The Gaels snagged the title last year with an upset win over Pepperdine to qualify for the national tournament. The team did not fare as well this year, losing to Pepperdine in the semi-finals on Friday, April 22, but bounced back to top Santa Clara on Saturday to grab third place.
Head coach Lisa Alipaz said she was a little disappointed about the weekend. "As a whole, we feel a little empty handed. I have mixed emotions about the weekend. It was great for the team to rebound back and take 3rd on the final day after an emotional, hard fought loss to Pepperdine."
The Gaels played a close match against #29 Pepperdine during the regular season, losing 3-4, and had hopes for an upset for the second year in a row. The second-seeded Waves captured the doubles point and swept singles play to earn the 4-1 win.
Pepperdine took the doubles match on court one and snagged a close victory from freshman Jenny Jullien and senior Claire Soper, 8-5, on court three. Senior Alex Poorta and junior Anna Chkhikvishvili dropped a close one, 9-8, in the deciding match, giving the Waves a 1-0 lead.
The only Saint Mary's singles win came from Soper.
Alipaz said her team could not capitalize on critical doubles points and had a shot at winning more of the singles matches. She commented, "The Pepperdine match will take a long time to get over. [We] let some opportunities slip away. Having played and beat #1 San Diego during the season, we knew that if we could get by Pepperdine, we would have a great shot at the title."
Although disappointed with the loss in the semi-finals, Saint Mary's topped Santa Clara 4-1 the next day. The Gael captured the doubles point and took three singles wins.
The Gaels entered the tournament with a three-seed and took on the six-seeded University of Portland (9-12) on Thursday, April 21. Saint Mary's opened the match with a doubles-win. Sophomore Catherine Isip and freshman Laurie Gingras defeated the Pilot's sister-twosome, Sabine Fuchs and Stephanie Fuchs, easily at 8-1. Court two recorded a win as well, Poorta and Chkhikvishvili took the match-up, 8-2.
Singles play ended just as handily. No. 48 Poorta defeated her opponent, 6-0, 6-1, freshman Jullien won 6-0, 6-2 to extend her win streak to 12, and Chkhikvishvili finished 6-3, 6-0. Jullien entered the match with a victory over top-rated Stanford.
After the win, Alipaz said, "Our girls went out today and played solid against a very good and very dangerous Portland team. They are a team you don't want to give too many chances to."
Saint Mary's entered the tournament ranked #47 overall with an 11-8 record, finishing 5-1 in WCC play, their only loss coming from Pepperdine. The Gaels notched three wins over top-75 teams, including, Texas Christian University, Boise State and San Diego. Five of the losses came to Top 25 teams including #5 UCLA and #9 Berkeley.


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