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Lutes Out on the Road in Search of First Win

Allison McClure

THIS WEEKEND: Pacific Lutheran, winless after four matches this season, heads to Oregon for a pair of Northwest Conference matches scheduled for Friday afternoon and Saturday morning starts. The Lutes play against Linfield College at 3:30 p.m. Friday and against George Fox University at 11 a.m. Saturday.

A TOUGH ASSIGNMENT: The Lutes played an October dual at Seattle U. and have since played three opponents this spring, but they came out on the losing end in all four contests. Ending that winless streak, now at 15 straight dating back to a 9-0 win over College of Idaho on March 4, 2011, will be particularly difficult on Friday. In Linfield, PLU will be facing the defending NWC tournament champion and a team that has dominated Northwest Conference women's tennis for the better part of the past decade.

ABOUT THE 'CATS: The PLU vs. Linfield series is one of contrasting streaks. Pacific Lutheran defeated Linfield 15 consecutive times from 1981 through 1999. The two programs split the next four matches, and since then Linfield has piled up 19 consecutive wins over PLU, including 9-0 victories in six of the last seven meetings. This season, the Wildcats are a perfect 4-0, including a 6-3 win over the same Whitman team that beat the Lutes last weekend by a 9-0 score. Abby Olbrich, a perennial all-conference honoree and the only Linfield player with national tournament experience, will again lead the Wildcats during the 2012 season. She is ranked No. 4 in the preseason region poll.

BRUIN' UP A VICTORY?: Pacific Lutheran's opponent on Saturday, George Fox, presents a real opportunity for the Lutes to put an end to their current losing streak. PLU struggled through a winless Northwest Conference campaign last year, so you would have to look back into the 2010 schedule to find the last time that the Lutes won a conference match. That happened on April 1, 2010, and George Fox was PLU's opponent that day. The final score was 5-2, with two of the matches being unfinished once the team result was decided. Two members of this year's PLU team - Cora Wigen and Tina Aarsvold - were on that 2010 Lutes squad. Last year's result against George Fox - a 5-4 Bruins win on Feb. 25 - was the closest that PLU came to winning a conference match in 2011. The 2012 Bruins are 1-2 overall and 0-1 in the conference and host Puget Sound on Friday before playing the Lutes on Saturday.

LUTES AND LITTLE LUTES: The Pacific Lutheran women's and men's tennis teams are proud to join up with Sprinker Tennis Center to announce the 2012 Lute of the Week/Little Lute of the Week promotion. At each Saturday home match, the PLU tennis teams will pick one outstanding varsity tennis player to be the Lute of the Week. At the same time, Sprinker Tennis Center will choose one lucky outstanding junior tennis player to the Little Lute of the Week. Each player will earn a free T-shirt along with having their picture showcased at Sprinker for the week. The junior tennis player will get to be on the court during the team warm-ups and introductions.

WHITMAN 9, PLU 0: Whitman dropped only five games in doubles and swept through singles without dropping a set in defeating Pacific Lutheran, 9-0, last Friday at Sprinker Recreation Center. The No. 3 doubles match was the closest of the three as Whitman's Hannah Palkowitz and Lizzy Schiller beat Allison McClure and Katherine Patton, 8-4. Kate Kunkel-Patterson defeated PLU's Tina Aarsvold at No. 3, 7-6 (1), 6-3, in the closest of the six singles matches.

WHITWORTH 9, PLU 0: Whitworth, which compiled a combined 43-1 dual record from 2009-11 while winning three consecutive NWC regular season titles, took a 9-0 win over the Lutes on Saturday at Sprinker Recreation Center. PLU's No. 2 doubles team of Cora Wigen and Valery Jorgensen gave Megan Wingfield and Claire Hemming a tough battle before losing 8-6. Pacific Lutheran sophomore Leah Newell came close to getting PLU's only point of the day but she came up just short against Alli Marshall at No. 1 singles, falling 1-6, 7-5, 1-0 (10-4).

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