McKendree ends Wildcats’ season for second year

The women’s tennis team’s hope of competing in the national tournament came to a disappointing end in a loss to McKendree College in the first round of regional play.

Although the women beat McKendree earlier this season, this is the second consecutive year that McKendree has defeated the women during the regional tournament, crushing their chance at nationals.

The women had a rough start losing all three doubles matches, which put them severely behind going into singles. A win in doubles could have helped the team a great deal.

“Our biggest problem was that we lost all three doubles matches,” assistant coach Bruce Anderson said. “Our three doubles went into a tie break, and one doubles lost 9-7, so they were both very close. I think if we had taken either one of those doubles we would have beaten McKendree, but it just didn’t fall our way.”

Despite the loss in the doubles matches, the women came out ready in the singles matches; however, they were unable to make up for the ground they had lost.

“We came out and fought hard in singles; everyone fought to the end,” senior Marti Eidson said. “We put the pressure on McKendree, but we just ended up falling short.”

Eidson’s fight in singles paid off as she was able to finish her last match of her college career with a win.

“Marti Eidson, in her final college match, really wiped out the other player,” Anderson said. “The other woman really didn’t have a chance against her. It was Marti’s last college match, and she played like she’s played all the way through her career here.”

Each and every player fought hard until the end, including freshman Lainie Arellano, who was painfully ill during her match and had to have medication brought to her on the court but continued to play.

“(Arellano) showed real guts staying in the match. She lost her singles match, but she stayed in it all the way,” Anderson said.

Many of the women were disappointed not just for themselves, but also for the seniors whose careers ended just a step away from nationals.

“I didn’t perform as well as I thought I could have, and that hurt because I really wanted to win for the seniors. … That meant a lot to me,” junior Melissa Shank said.

Eidson said she was not disappointed in her teammates’ performances, but rather, she was impressed with the effort she saw.

“I think that this team was the best chance we had of going to nationals,” Eidson said. “I was happy with the season and the way everyone came out to play. I feel like the team really did try and put in the effort to do well, and that’s really all you can ask for.”

Anderson also said although the women lost the match, they met every expectation he had set for them.

“I don’t think we could have asked for any more from the women. I mean, you want to win and you want to continue to go on, but I think they individually and collectively met our expectations of giving it their very best,” Anderson said. “Our expectations were high and they met them, although they didn’t win.”

Even though the season is over with the loss, the women agree the team found success throughout.

“I feel that in the season as a whole we did great; we really worked hard as a team and worked through some of the struggles we faced,” senior Taylor McKinley said. “Of course, going into every year you have a new team dynamic, but we truly became a team this season and in a lot of ways were pretty unbeatable.”