Sophomore Astrid Olsen prepares to swing in a doubles match against Santa Clara on March 25 at Ralphs-Straus Tennis Center. This was Olsen’s first match since February.
Photos by Ali Levens
The No. 7 Pepperdine Women’s Tennis team competed against Santa Clara in a WCC matchup Friday, March 25, at the Ralphs-Straus Tennis Center in Malibu. The Waves dominated the Broncos in a 7-0 sweep without dropping a set and are now 11-2 on the season with a 2-0 conference record.
The match started off with strong doubles performances by the Waves, as the duos of sophomore Lisa Zaar and No. 115 freshman Taisiya Pachkaleva and redshirt freshman Lexi Ryngler and sophomore Astrid Olsen each won their matches 6-2.
“Taisiya and I really enjoy playing doubles together, and we fire each other up,” Zaar said. “We have lots of fun on the court, and when we play well in doubles, it translates to our singles matches as well.”
Ryngler and Olsen coasted to an easy victory despite being a completely new competitive partnership.
“Astrid and I play together all the time in practice, but we have not had the opportunity to play in a match together yet,” Ryngler said. “It was awesome to play with her, and we were finally able to put our practice to use.”
The Waves continued to dominate in singles matches, as No. 14 graduate student Jessica Failla continued her impressive play as she defeated Jenna Marie Gordon in two sets 6-0, 6-1. Failla was previously No. 33 in the preseason poll.
Graduate student Ashley Lahey, ranked No. 1 in preseason, did not play against the Broncos and has dropped out of the Top 125 rankings due to a hand injury.
Zaar won her match 6-1, 6-0, soon after Failla’s victory to put the Broncos on the brink of losing.
“I want to build on the momentum that I gain every point, game and set, and I think that was shown in that I only dropped one game today,” Zaar said. “It shows that I have a lot of focus that I was able to keep throughout the match, which I was happy about.”
Pachkaleva’s victory gave the Waves the clinch point, as she won her match 6-2, 6-2.
After the clinch, the Waves and Broncos continued to play the dual through, and Olsen added to the team performance with 6-0, 6-4 victory. It was the first time Olsen had played in a match since February.
“I had not played a single match yet so I was getting back into the groove every point,” Olsen said. “I was having fun, and I am super grateful to be able to play in a time like this.”
Ryngler then won her match on court four 6-3, 6-1, and is making a strong impact in the lineup as a freshman.
“I was focused on my match, but slowly I started to see our girls come off the court and I was excited to see how well they were doing,” Ryngler said. “Watching Lisa and Jess win so fast definitely gave me a confidence boost, so I just wanted to keep the momentum going.”
Graduate student Shiori Fukuda won the final match of the day 7-5, 6-2.
The Waves are entering the heart of their season, as WCC play continues over the next few weeks as well as matches against No. 35 Stanford on April 2, and No. 25 UC Berkeley on April 4.
“We are very excited to play the best teams in the nation, and we have had great success against them earlier this year,” Zaar said. “We enjoy playing tough matches, and we want to find out how good we really are.”
Ryngler said she is looking forward to the challenge that playing top ranked teams presents.
“We are really excited to play teams like Stanford and Berkeley again, and everyone is looking forward to it,” Ryngler said. “We know how challenging it will be, but we have been practicing really hard and I know we can beat them again.”
Like her teammates, Olsen knows the team is training hard right now, but is confident it will pay dividends down the road.
“I think people came into this match a bit more tired than usual: it is just the training load we have been doing right now,” Olsen said. “I feel like we are prepared for everything that is coming our way.”
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