Women’s tennis team aces opener in 9-0 win


Photo by Corinne Thomas

by Jake Brend, Sports Editor

The Simpson women’s tennis team started the fall campaign off strong with a 9-0 win over Dubuque on Saturday, Sept. 19. 

After the first four meets of the season were postponed or canceled due to COVID-19, the Storm (1-0, 1-0 A-R-C) were finally able to kick off the season at the Buxton Tennis Complex against the Spartans (1-5, 0-5 A-R-C.)

“We had five practice weeks, and everyone knew it’s go time for matches,” Head Coach Faith Bliss said.

The strong performance started in doubles play, where all three pairs for the Storm won their match. At the top, juniors Anna Wanek and Emily King defeated Alyssa Stevenson and Ta’Dazja Perkins, 8-1. Poise was the key to victory in the first match of the day.

“Emily has a very calming presence about her that helped make the match fun and seem no different than a practice,” Wanek said.

Junior Megan Grubb and sophomore Kennedi Wright beat Lauren Colon and Patient Jabbah by a score of 8-3 while sophomore Donni Kinghorn and senior Lorin Miller didn’t lose a game against Kate Mar and Cessli D’Antonio, winning 8-0.

With the fast 3-0 lead, Simpson needed only two singles wins, but managed to win all six for the clean sweep. 

Wanek won her first career singles match by a score of 6-0, 6-1 over Stevenson at the top of the lineup. The basketball transfer from Minnesota State University-Mankato decided to play competitive tennis for the first time since high school.

“There were a little bit of first meet jitters,” Wanek said. “I think more of excitement jitters rather than nervous. I haven’t competed competitively in over two years, so it felt great to be back out there again.

 At the No. 2 spot, King won her 24th career match in a 6-0, 6-1 victory against Perkins. Saturday’s win made King the ninth-winningest singles player in school history. 

“It takes a lot to get a 9-0 win…,” King said. “It’s a great way to start the season.” 

Saturday’s 9-0 sweep was the first for the Storm since March 10, 2019, in a road win over Buena Vista. 

Despite a challenging 6-4 first set win against Colon, Grubb was able to convincingly win the second set 6-1 to pick up her 12th career win. 

No player was challenged more on Saturday than Wright. Starting with a close 6-4 win over Jabbah in the first set, she dropped the second set 4-6 before winning the match in a 10-5 tiebreaker. 

“Kennedi showed a lot of strength, being able to change her game style. It was a great ending to the match for the team,” Bliss said. 

Wright’s sophomore counterpart, Kinghorn, kick-started her sophomore campaign with a 6-1, 6-1 victory over Mar, while freshman Aubrey Ocheltree capitalized on her first varsity opportunity at No. 6 singles with a 6-1, 6-1 win against D’Antonio. 

While the quality of play in the match was nearly back to normal, there were a few changes to spectator regulations. Fans in attendance were expected to wear a mask or face covering and social distance from other spectators. Despite the boost it provided, Bliss has a recommendation.

“It’s always exciting to have family and friends in attendance,” Bliss said. “But my advice for the crowd, get a little more rowdy when Simpson Women hit winners or closeout sets.”

However, in front of opposing fans, the Storm continues their pursuit of a conference championship on Friday, Sept. 25, when they travel to Waverly to play Wartburg at 4 p.m.