On Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 16 and 17, Western Carolina University’s women’s tennis team hosted the WCU Invitational. Lipscomb University, Presbyterian University, Tusculum College and Young Harris College all traveled to Cullowhee to take place in the second fall tournament hosted by the rising Catamount tennis program.
The tournament involved singles and doubles matches and was played in a round robin style instead of single elimination. Beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday, the tournament ran until Sunday evening. Both mornings began in typical cloudy Cullowhee fashion, but the days quickly heated up as the sun came through. Western Carolina earned victories in singles and doubles play.
Sophomore Lauren McCall never lost a set in three matches as she claimed the Purple 4 singles title. McCall did not have to force a tie-breaking third set in a single match, defeating opponents from all three schools in her impressive showing. This victory continues her run of strong play from the end of last season, during which she was a stand out player for the Catamounts.
Freshmen Carli Deehr and Jordyn King took the Paws 3 doubles title in their first competitive collegiate action. Deehr and King won two matches and lost one, tying them with the doubles team from Tusculum. Deehr and King held the tiebreaker, however, as they had defeated the pair from Tusculum earlier in the tournament.
Head coach Michaela Kissell-Eddins called the performance “a solid, total team effort.”
The value of hosting a tournament cannot be overstated. The program saved hundreds of dollars on travel expenses: coaches did not have to find hotels, plan meals or provide transportation. Not only did this move save money, it boosted morale. The team hosted a tournament and put on a proud display, taking several victories. This was yet another step forward for a rapidly growing program.
Kissell-Eddins took on the head coaching position in 2013. In the 2014 season, Western Carolina won only one game out of 21. In 2015, the Catamounts grabbed six victories. Last season, the Catamounts won 12, a program record. The last time the Catamounts boasted a winning record before last season was 1997. From the start of the fall season, the Catamounts look to continue growing. Coach Kissell Eddins attributes this improvement to a hard-working attitude.
“As coaches, it took us always believing the program could be great, but also as players it took working hard and improving their individual games,” she said.
This invitational opened Western Carolina’s fall season, which involves four tournaments. These tournaments act as a kind of preseason, providing the team with quality college matches before the regular season in the spring. The next tournament was the Mountain Challenge, hosted by the University of North Carolina at Asheville. The tournament included the University of North Carolina at Asheville, Western Carolina, the University of South Carolina Upstate and Kennesaw State University. This event was hosted by Western Carolina last season and will be hosted by them again next season.
With Jordyn King absent due to illness, sophomore Jordan Strickland stepped into her place on the doubles team with Carli Deehr. Deehr and Strickland swept the Number 2 doubles flight, winning both of their matches. Deehr has now only lost one doubles match in her burgeoning collegiate career.
The Catamounts have begun their fall season in promising fashion. There are two tournaments remaining in the fall, seeing Western Carolina travel to Wake Forest and Wofford. The Catamounts will hope to continue their good form and finish the fall season strongly before resting and preparing for the spring season.
For information on the Catamounts' schedule and tickets, visit www.catamountsports.com.