Boosted by a talented crop of freshmen, the Gonzaga women’s tennis team has arrived.
The Bulldogs (14-3, 4-2 West Coast Conference) come off a weekend where they beat Loyola Marymount 4-0 Friday and scored its first point against perennial power Pepperdine since 2004 in a 4-1 loss Saturday to the 9th-ranked Waves.
With the win on Friday, this tennis team has matched the program record for wins with 14 and it currently is in second place in the league behind the Waves.
“It’s hard to compare a couple teams,” Coach D.J. Gurule said. “But this team from top to bottom, depth wise, is so strong. That kind of sets us apart from teams in the past.”
Earlier in the year, the team set a new program standard with an 11-match winning streak.
“I think we had probably three or four matches that could have gone either way,” Gurule said. “The young group is kind of getting the good bounces. We’ll take it.”
The team finished 12-9 and 3-6 in the WCC last season before the arrival of freshmen Nevada Apollo, Domonique Garley, Graciela Rosas and Sophie Whittle. The freshmen have accounted for more than half of the Bulldogs’ victories.
“They were ranked coming in so we knew they were talented,” Gurule said. “But I think the better piece is that they’ve gelled as a team. That’s freed them up a little bit to have some success without worrying about having success.”
Garley came to Spokane from Fort Worth, Texas. She’s 23-5 in matches so far this season.
“We are kind of just a big family of sisters,” Garley said. “I really enjoy it because it’s not about wins and losses; it’s about improving every time and every match.”
Alex Bourguignon, a sophomore from Seattle, is the only bridge between the team’s four freshman and seniors Sissi Koehler, Samantha Polayes and Melanie Yates.
“I think everybody has the right mindset,” Bourguignon said. “Starting from the fall, (the freshmen) have been really great and really bought into the program. They are all really talented.”
The Bulldogs hit the road this week to take on Pacific on Saturday and St. Mary’s on Sunday. The Gaels also have a 4-2 record in the WCC.
“It’s a huge trip for us,” Gurule said. “Even though they haven’t had a great year, Pacific is dangerous. And, St. Mary’s annually has been one of the best teams in the conference.”
Rosas, of Mexicali, Mexico, said the program’s support system has helped the freshmen feel like they are among family.
“Also, we all put in extra work and help each other work,” she said. “I just feel those little things are building up and helping us succeed.”
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