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Women’s tennis wins first match in over two years

March 29, 2017

The UW-River Falls women’s tennis team broke a 30-match losing streak on Sunday, March 26, taking down Div. II University of Minnesota Crookston 8-1.

The win was the first for UWRF since the fall 2014 season, and the first under second-year Head Coach Dan Stumpf. The match was the first action the team has seen since placing seventh in the WIAC tournament in October.

The Falcons traveled to Bemidji, Minnesota, on Sunday to compete against Div. II schools University of Minnesota Crookston and Bemidji State. Even though the match was set for noon against a team up one division, the Falcons came ready to play.

Brittany Asfeld put in a dominant performance in number one singles, defeating Whitney Erickson 6-3, 6-2. She also teamed up with Krista Haglund to take down Whitney and Reanne Erickson 8-5 in doubles.

Anna Fessenmaier, Karli Helland, Aliza Doherty and Taylor Norby also won singles matches in the afternoon. The strong all-around performance gave the team an 8-1 victory and a much-needed win.

“It was awesome that our hard work has finally paid off,” Helland said. “We’re all really passionate about the sport, and that’s something we use to our advantage. We can only get better from where we were.”

The road to this victory wasn’t an easy one. The Falcons showed they could be competitive in the fall season, losing a close match to UW-Stevens Point 4-5 and taking a few matches off of a strong UW-Oshkosh team. But for this win to come on the heels of a long offseason shows the focus UWRF needed in order to come out hot.

“I think we were all really excited to get back on the court, and we brought our ‘A’ game,” Helland said. “We’ve put in a lot of hours with the same drills to master [our shots], and it’s hard not to get better when you put in that work.”

The performance can also be a testament to the work Stumpf has put in during the short time he has been head of the program. Helland said Stumpf’s focus on clearing the net, improving the team’s footwork and volleying abilities and putting away points at the net has been key to their improvement.

Helland used these tools to achieve the most lopsided win of the afternoon, crushing Adrianna Tiede 6-0, 6-0 in her number four singles match.

“I was just being consistent with my shots and not trying to do too much with it, while also using opportunities to my advantage,” Helland said.

The Falcons had trouble finding the same success in match number two on the day against Bemidji State. While Crookston came in at 0-10 on the season, Bemidji State entered the match at 9-3.

UWRF would get rolled in every match, with the closest contest coming in number one singles from Brittany Asfeld. She managed to take four games from Morgan Opp in the second set before falling 6-2, 6-4.

The decisive loss to Bemidji State may have put a small damper on the weekend, but the competitive nature the Falcons showed against upper-level talent could prove to be valuable as the season wears on.

“We have high hopes for what we can do. We’re more than capable [of competing]; it’s just applying everything we’ve learned on a single day,” Helland said. “They were both DII teams, so there’s no reason we shouldn’t be able to compete that well with teams in our division.”

The Falcons return to action on April 9 when they travel to De Pere, Wisconsin. They will take on Concordia University and St. Norbert College at noon and 3 p.m.

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