Western Carolina tennis got their conference season into full swing this past week. The Lady Catamounts (4-8, 0-5) hosted Appalachian State and UNC-Greensboro this weekend. Last Thursday, they traveled to Davidson to take on the Lady Wildcats.
WCU fell to the Lady Mountaineers 1-6 on Sunday. Freshman Shannon Zalinski picked up the only point for the Lady Cats playing as the number four seed. After dropping her first set 4-6 against Elena Berger, she came back to win the second set 7-5 before closing out the match 6-4 in the final set.
Head coach Jan Stubbs feels Zalinski has been showing a great deal of improvement throughout the young season. She feels this match may set the tone for Zalinski’s play for the rest of the year.
“I was very proud of Shannon,” she said. “I liked the way she hung in there at the end, especially after she let a match slip away on Thursday (against Davidson).”
Junior Shelby Fitzpatrick entered the match looking for her third consecutive singles victory at the number two spot. She seemed well on her way after winning the first set easily 6-2 against Tonya Eberhart. However, she lost a long battle in the second set 7-5 and went on to lose the final set 6-2.
Saturday afternoon, UNCG visited Cullowhee and defeated the Lady Cats by a score of 1-6. Fitzpatrick was the only Western player to record a point as she won her singles match in straight sets (7-5, 7-5) over Ashley Rimel.
The win was the second in a row for Fitzpatrick in conference play, as she won earlier in the week against Davidson. Stubbs feels she has been one of the major keys to her squad this year.
“Shelby has been playing really well for us all year. Her match just kind of got away from her Sunday (against ASU),” she said.
Fitzpatrick and Zalinski also won their doubles match against Natalie Cherry and Kristen Adamson. However, Western dropped the other two doubles matches to give UNCG the only point awarded for doubles play.
Last Thursday, March 22, the Lady Cats traveled to Davidson for their third consecutive conference road game. The Lady Wildcats topped WCU with a 2-5 margin.
Freshman Kristin Munn won her match in top-seeded singles action. She defeated Davidson’s top singles player, Elizabeth Moreno, in straight sets with a score of 6-1, 6-3.
Fitzpatrick also picked up a point for the Lady Cats. She beat out Yasamina Hilu by the same 6-1, 6-3 margin. The win was the first in conference play in three years for the Columbus, GA, native from Brookstone Academy.
Tomorrow, Western will take a break from conference play to visit the Lady Bulldogs of UNC-Asheville at 2:00 p.m. From here, the Lady Catamounts will venture to Tennessee this weekend, taking on Chattanooga on Saturday and East Tennessee State on Sunday. Both matches are scheduled to begin at 11:30 a.m.