Gonzaga women’s tennis got back into the win column Sunday in a big way with a 6-1 victory against the University of Montana at the Stevens Center. After suffering their first loss of the season last weekend to Washington State University, the Zags rediscovered their winning ways against a Montana team that they had swept 7-0 in the second game of the season.
“It’s a good rebound for us and I always think it’s tough playing the same team twice,” GU Head Coach DJ Gurule said. “It’s not really a trap match, but it’s one of those matches where we need to take care of business and I think the girls did a really good job focusing on that.”
Doubles play started off rough as GU conceded the opening games on all three courts. The duo of junior Adrianna Sosnowska and graduate player Hannah Jones on court one turned it around the quickest, taking the next three games before going on to win 6-3.
The court two pairing of graduate player Kate Ketels and senior Taylor Gruber fell behind 1-2 in games, but found a spark in the next two games to go up 3-2. A big sixth game ended in a game clinching point off a big rally which was finished by Ketels, keeping GU on top in that matchup 4-2. The duo would go on to win their set 6-3 as well, handing GU the initial team point of the match with the duo on court three still set to finish.
GU’s pair on court three of Haruna Tsuruta and Cate Broerman were down 0-3 in games to start their set. The couple didn’t give up however, and fought back meticulously to being down by one after nine games. Tsuruta and Broerman continued to prevail from there winning three straight games to take the set 7-5 and help GU sweep Montana in doubles play once again.
“Having those girls play through that game even though it’s technically a ‘dead match’ was important to our momentum,” Gurule said. “Since they’re great off the ground and great volley-ers, sometimes when we play doubles, they’re not as confident in that match environment so it was nice to see them pull that win for sure.”
As singles action got underway, GU found itself in a battle on all six courts. Sosnowksa fell behind 0-2 on court two against Montana sophomore Olivia Oosterbaan in their first set, and after securing her first game, Ketels found herself in a 1-2 hole against Montana senior Julia Ronney on court one.
Broerman was able to find her way out of 0-1 deficit early, roaring back to take the next six games and winning her first set 6-1. The only GU player to claim a first set victory quicker than Broerman was senior Taylor Gruber on court six who wasted no games and finished the first set ahead with a clean 6-0 win.
GU sophomore Jenna Sloan similarly got off to a hot start, getting ahead in her first set 5-0 by outlasting her opponent in continual rallies. Sloan would go on to win that first set 6-2
Tsuruta was in a fight for the first half of her games on court four, going up 3-2, then 4-3 before finishing the first set on top 6-4. Ketels and Sosnowska were continually engaged in battles with their respective opponents on courts one and two, with both of their first sets heading to a tiebreaker 13th game. Neither of them were able to pull through in that deciding game and both dropped the first set 6-7.
Gruber was the first player on the day to secure a match victory in singles after going on to best her opponent again in set two after the sweep in set one. Her win and point for GU was soon followed by Broerman, who continued to utilize a fast pace while she was ahead to win her second set 6-2 and take home the match victory.
Now up 3-0, GU was looking for one at least one more point to secure another win against Montana.
Sloan and her opponent Ivayla Mitkova put up a stronger contest against one another to get their second set going, but Sloan still led 4-3 after seven games. She would push on ahead to take the next to sets in dominating fashion, which gave her the match victory as well as GU the game clinching point as the Zags went ahead 4-0.
“Jenna did a great job of closing out that match when she needed to," Gurule said. “ There were a little bit of hiccups there where she could’ve let it get loose and have it be a tough match, but ultimately she gritted down and stayed the plan to move forward and hit the balls with shape.”
With the victory now in hand, there were still three matches left to be determined for GU. Tsuruta was more in her groove in her second set, relying on solid returns off of serves to set up finishing blows. She was up 4-1 after five games and finished out victorious with a 6-2 second set.
Court one saw another contentious set between Ketels and Ronney, where Ketels got ahead 3-1 in games early in the second set. Rooney turned it around and was able to figure out Ketels’ serve that had been giving her problems earlier, battling back to take the set 6-4, which gave the Grizzlies their first match point on the day.
“The best thing about Kate is that you know what you’re going to get when you put her on the court - she’s going to scrap it out,” Gurule said. “Montana’s one is a great player who dominates off that forehand side and ultimately we just didn’t get the ball out of her zone as much as we wanted to.”
The score being 5-1 with one match left to finish, Sosnowska on court two was able to even the score in her match with a second set victory. The third set between her and Oosterbaan came down to a tiebreaker game as well after Sosnowska fought her back from a nearly match ending 5-6 deficit. The last game was a contentious one that saw Sosnowska take 4-1 lead before giving up five straight points, and then finding her way back in to win that game 9-7.
With Sosnowska’s match victory, GU finished out its fifth win of the year on a high note and looks ahead to two games at the University of Arizona on Feb. 26 and 27.