Women's tennis team falls to Bellevue once again
By Lukas Bachmann - Staff Reporter
For the second year in a row, the Highline women's tennis team finished second at the Northwest Athletic Conference championship.
Bellevue came in first, taking home the title with 125 team points.
After Bellevue's loss to Highline earlier in the season, Bellevue went and got themselves a new No. 1 player.
Chiaki Yoshikawa, 22, a Japanese tennis player with experience on the Japanese professional circuit, joined the team with less than a month left in the season.
By acquiring such a high caliber player, Bellevue was able to shift their lineup. Their former No. 1 single shifted down to their No. 2 spot and so on and so forth.
Highline Head Coach Laura Rosa said that this move helped Bellevue win the title.
"Yoshikawa played at the No. 1 singles spot and was just better than our No. 1 Amila Gogalija, who entered the tournament undefeated. The result was that they just fielded a tougher team than we have," Rosa said.
Despite Bellevue's late lineup change, the Thunderbirds were able to place second with 90 team points, narrowly edging out Spokane, who placed third with 88.
The tournament was rounded out by Skagit Valley finishing fourth with 33 points and Treasure Valley finishing last with 24 points.
The team placing second is not the only repeat from last year.
Sophomore Samantha McElwain placed first in No. 4 singles for the second year in a row and took the teams only first place finish.
McElwain also paired with freshman Miriam Cabrera to take second in No. 2 doubles.
Freshmen Amila Gogalijia and sophomore Celeste Andreotti both placed second in No. 1 and No. 2 singles, respectively. The pair combined to finish second in No. 1 doubles.
Despite having a young team, Rosa said the team handled the pressure well.
"Our sophomores were a little bit more ready for the experience than our freshmen, but overall I think we were well prepared," Rosa said
"It helped to have so many big matches against four year schools throughout the year,"
Although the team is young, Rosa said the team played up to its potential.
"[The team played] the absolute very best they could. They played valiantly, fiercely and with class and grace," Rosa said
Rosa went on to say that the No. 2 doubles team, featuring Miriam Cabrera and Samantha McElwain stood out to her, specifically.
Rosa said the weather had turned which forced the game to an indoor facility near by.
"Cabrera and McElwain played the best doubles match I've seen by any team all year. They moved on the court like they were one person," Rosa said.
"Miriam absolutely took over the net, she chased down every single ball and if anything got past her Sammie was there to lob it back into play until Miriam got the chance to finish the point with a huge overhead," Rosa said.
Rosa said that Spokane simply did not have an answer for Cabrera and McElwain in this match.
The team may have fallen short of the title but seems to be establishing a good culture around this resurrected program.
Rosa said the team is proud of where they got and are celebrating their feat.
"We are proud of our culture as a program. The team conducted themselves honorably both athletically and in character. We are celebrating our second-place finish," Rosa said.
The Thunderbirds will return next year for their third season with five returning players.