Sept. 26, 2006
CHENEY, Wash. -- University of Portland sophomore Jenna Tanzer had a breakout performance in the first competition of the 2006-07 tennis season, winning the Red Lion Invitational on Sunday in dramatic fashion. Tanzer, who was unseeded entering the tournament, won five consecutive matches to earn the title, including victories over four of the top eight seeds and the three No. 1 singles players from Eastern Washington, Idaho and Montana.
Tanzer (Johannesburg, South Africa) earned her spot in the finals with a grueling 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (3) comeback win over No. 2 seed Patricia Ruman of Idaho Sunday afternoon in the semifinals. After coming up empty with two match points on serve at 5-4, Tanzer responded to closing the three-hour match in a third set tiebreaker.
She returned to the court an hour later to take the championship match in straight sets over top-seeded Liz Walker of Montana, 6-3, 6-4. Tanzer posted a 5-29 overall record as a freshman last season for the Pilots primarily at the No. 3 and No. 4 singles positions, but showed no signs of intimidation despite entering the tournament unseeded.
"Jenna was solid both mentally and physically and was brave enough to believe she could win," Portland head coach Susie Campbell-Gross said. "Her day-in, day-out commitment to fitness and improving her game has allowed her to see this type of a result. Jenna's work ethic sets her apart and made the difference this weekend. It was truly an inspiration to watch."
Sophomore teammate Anna Gullickson, also an unseeded entrant, enjoyed a personal best tournament by advancing to the semifinals before falling Walker 6-4, 6-1. Gullickson (Spokane, Wash.) was Portland's No. 6 singles player last season and posted a 6-17 overall record.
"It was so exciting to see Anna begin her sophomore season playing the best tennis of her life before a hometown crowd," said Campbell-Gross. "It was a very proud moment to see Anna believe and compete at the highest level. She comes away with a tremendous amount of confidence after this weekend."
Other Pilots had solid showings as well, including freshman standout Audree Jenks (Albuquerque, N.M.). Following a 7-5, 2-6, 6-2
loss to second-seeded Kasey Knox of Eastern Washington in the Round of 16, Jenks came back to win a pair of consolation matches to post a 4-1 record for the tournament.
"Audree is so much fun to watch and to coach," said Campbell-Gross. "She is a tremendous athlete and comes to UP with great skills. It will be exciting to see her grow as a player over the next few months. We will see great things from Audree Jenks."
All five Pilots that competed in the tournament won their first match and advanced to the Round of 16. The team will look to carry its early season momentum forward to its next scheduled tournament, the Saint Mary's Invitational on October 13-15 in Moraga, Calif.
"It was an important weekend for the Pilots to prove that we are capable and deserving of competing at the highest level, and we showed some areas where we need to improve," Campbell-Gross added. "It was great to see the younger players stepping up. It raises the whole level of our desire as a team to succeed. Winning is a habit and one that we want to adopt here in the tennis program at UP. This weekend was a step in the right direction."
Tanzer's Path To The Title...
Round of 32: def. Kendall Bates (Gonzaga) 6-0, 6-1
Round of 16: def. No. 7 Mari Costello (Montana) 6-2, 6-4
Quarterfinals: def. No. 2 Kasey Knox (Eastern Washington) 6-2, 2-0 retired (injury)
Semifinals: def. No. 6 Patricia Ruman (Idaho) 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (3)
Finals: def. No. 1 Liz Walker (Montana) 6-3, 6-4