Gonzaga women’s tennis proved victorious over Oregon in a closely contested 4-3 contest on Saturday in the Stevens Center. Now 3-0 on the year, Saturday’s match proved to be more contentious for the Zags than their two previous matches against Eastern Washington and Montana were.
The Zags came from behind to secure the victory after giving up the first point of the match to Oregon in doubles play. On court one, junior Adrianna Sosnowska and graduate player Kate Ketels for GU were tied at 2-2 after four games in their matchup. Then after losing the fifth game, the sixth game came down to a return by Ketels that the line judge ruled as out, awarding Oregon a 4-2 lead.
“Doubles is only one point, so it’s about resetting and going back out there and knowing that we have six points to play to win the match,” Ketels said. “The doubles point isn’t as big of a deal as the singles matches are.”
The Ducks would go on to win that set but GU battled back with a win of its own on court three from the pairing of senior Taylor Gruber and graduate player Haruna Tsuruta. The pair was also tied at two games a piece when they won the next four straight to even the overall double sets at 1-1.
The last doubles team for GU consisted of sophomores Jenna Sloan and Cate Broerman, with the pair falling behind early 1-3. They fought hard to bring it back as a win in the ninth game got them back to within one point of tying the set. Oregon’s duo came right back at the Zags though, winning the clinching game and giving the Ducks an early 1-0 lead heading into singles play.
“We dealt with those doubles losses just like we deal with anything by just putting it behind us and realizing what we need to charge forward,” said GU women’s tennis Head Coach DJ Gurule. “Our energy, I think, was so impressive not just from our girls on the court but from everybody else in the stands and who finished their matches, that was such a huge surge and the energy really put us over the top.”
That energy reflected in Tsuruta early on in her singles match on court four. She went up 3-0 in the first set and closed it out 6-2, using strong returns and good pace to keep her opponent struggling to find a rhythm.
Tsuruta then followed that up by getting ahead 5-0 in the second set which secured GU’s first team point of the afternoon and tied the contest at 1-1.
On court two, Sosnowska faced off against Oregon sophomore Lillian Mould, who Sosnowska lost to last season when GU lost to the Ducks in a fall invitational. This time however, Sosnowska got the better of Mould, taking advantage of Mould’s hard serve and weak backhand to turn the tides. Sosnowsla won the first set 6-4 and the second set 6-2, giving GU the 2-1 lead with four matches left to play.
had a big serve.” - Sosnowska
“The energy today was on point,” Sosnowska said. “We were all screaming, we all felt that and we all went there to win, which was our mentality to go there, perform and then come out with a win. We give each other so much energy so it makes it easier to actually play well because you can feel your teammates supporting you.”
The most dominant pair of sets on the day may have come from Lily Gruber on court six. She bested her opponent both times around 6-2 to claim her singles match, which helped her join Tsuruta on the day as the only players to win all of their doubles and singles sets.
GU would go up 3-1 and the team was one match point away from victory. That point wouldn’t come easy however, as the three matches remaining appeared prone to experiencing a lot of parody.
Ketels on court one was interlocked in the toughest matchup of the day, facing off against Janice Tjen who was one of the top players on the Indonesian junior circuit last year. Ketels fell behind early with Tjen returning every shot Ketels offered with an even more lethal strike.
After losing the first set 6-2 however, Ketels would find herself ahead 2-1 in the second set. A back and forth between each of GU’s and Oregon’s top dogs ensued with Ketels able to keep the game within reach after winning the 12th game of the sixth set to tie it 6-6. At last, Tjen put it away with a strong 13th game to win 7-6 and bring the team score back to 3-2.
“My whole goal was just to stay out there for as long as I could for my teammates,” Ketels said. “Especially because Broerman was in a really close match and [Adrianna] was still playing so I was trying to hit every ball in the court as best I could.”
Jenna Sloan was also interlocked in a matchup that she was trailing in but still contesting in on court five. In her first set, Sloan fell behind early but battled back by taking two straight games to force her opponent to have to win a seventh game in order to take the set. Her opponent did, and carried that momentum into the second set which would see Sloan lose four consecutive games and drop the set 6-2.
Gurule said after the game that he is extremely proud of how much Sloan has improved from her freshman to sophomore year, but that in today’s game, it was inability to capitalize in the few moments when the momentum was in her favor that hurt her on the court.
Oregon had now tied the game 3-3 with a potential upset brewing for the Ducks on court three. Cate Broerman won the first set of her match 6-2 and was cruising through the second set with five straight games won. With only one more game needed for Broerman to clinch her match and send the Zags home victorious, her Oregon opponent mounted a three game win streak of her own to bring the second set to a contentious 5-3 score.
The last match we were waiting for Cate to finish and we were so pumped up because my heart was beating and we were so stressed,” Sosnowska said. “I felt like even though I finished, that I was still playing.”
Broerman felt her teammates' energy in that last set and got off to a 40-15 lead before capping it off with a strong rally win and giving her the ultimate victory in 6-3. As the ball failed to get over the net on the other side of the court, Broerman leaped up in the air in exuberance as her teammates stormed her for giving GU the 4-3 match victory.
The still-undefeated Zags head to Tucson next weekend for four games including one against another PAC-12 opponent in Arizona.