With the overall match tied at four, Westmont juniors Kristen Lee and Christina Klein pulled off a come-from-behind win at No. 3 doubles to secure a 5-4 victory over No. 13 Point Loma Nazarene on Saturday at the Abbott Tennis Courts.

The win over the Sea Lions was the second of the year for the No. 16 Warriors, who improved to 10-10 overall and 4-5 in Golden State Athletic Conference play. The victory could help secure a place for Westmont in the upcoming NAIA National Women’s Tennis Tournament next month in Mobile, Ala. Point Loma is 8-12, 4-5.

“Even though we played with a lot of nerves, this team showed maturity by resisting succumbing to their nervousness,” said a delighted head coach Kathy LeSage.

Westmont retained the same lineup with which it had defeated Point Loma, 6-3, on March 18 in a nonconference match in Palm Springs. But Sea Lions head coach Rich Hall made a change from the previous match, inserting Brooke Foster into the lineup at No. 6 singles and No. 3 doubles, replacing Holly Robins. Westmont senior Jennie Dunn had defeated Robins 6-4, 7-5 at No. 6 singles in the March match.

“The new number six player was a much stronger player and she defeated Jennie Dunn at 6-1, 6-2 today,” LeSage said. “However, the core of our (singles) lineup at three, four and five won in straight sets.”

At No. 4, Lee defeated Leanne Piper, 6-4, 6-2, bettering her three-set win over the same opponent in March. At No. 3, freshman Erin McGurty defeated Taryn Zimmer, 6-0, 6-2, while at No. 5, Klein claimed a 6-2, 6-2 win over Brittany Hall.

Point Loma Nazarene notched victories at Nos. 1 and 2 with Kristin Strimple posting a 6-0, 6-2 win on the No. 1 court over freshman Lauren Combs. Kelsey Weir won at No. 2, defeating freshman Ilissa Mathews, 6-2, 6-4.

“We went into doubles tied up at three, knowing that we had won two of the three doubles matches when we played them earlier,” said LeSage. “But we also knew that they were using a stronger player in their number three team. We got ahead quickly at number one and two doubles, but got down early at number three. That was disconcerting because our number three doubles have often been the anchor of our team.”

Westmont’s No. 1 doubles team of Combs and McGurty lost its match against Strimple and Weir, 8-3. At No. 2, Mathews and Dunn cruised to an 8-2 win.

“Lauren and Erin played as well as they could,” said LeSage, “but in the end the Point Loma team was just stronger and more experienced players. Number two doubles really just dominated. It was tight early, and then Jennie and Ilissa just took off and won going away.

“Now the overall match was tied at 4-4 and it all came down to number three doubles where we were down,” LeSage said of the pivotal match that saw Lee and Klein battling against Foster and Zimmer. “I gave Kristen and Christina a couple of tips and I saw them go from being shaky to all of a sudden playing with confidence. They won a very strong service game and that carried on to breaking serve in the next game. Then they held serve again to go ahead, 7-6, and then broke serve again to win the match and the whole thing.”

The match ended the regular GSAC season for both teams. The Warriors are tied with Point Loma for sixth place but likely will move into a three-way tie for fifth with Concordia after they complete their season with a match against No. 2 Vanguard.

The Warriors’ hopes for a trip to the national tournament hang on their place in the final NAIA national rankings. Their current No. 16 ranking puts them very much on the bubble but Saturday’s win should help them move up and gain an at-large bid. A fifth national ranking is due out Wednesday, but a final ranking won’t be released until April 30. The Warriors have been to the national tournament 17 times during LeSage’s 21 years as coach.

No. 16 Westmont 5, No. 13 Point Loma Nazarene 4

No. 1 — Kristin Strimple (Point Loma Nazarene) defeated Lauren Combs (Westmont) 6-0, 6-2
No. 2 — Kelsey Weir (Point Loma Nazarene) defeated Ilissa Mathews (Westmont) 6-2, 6-4
No. 3 — Erin McGurty (Westmont) defeated Taryn Zimmer (Point Loma Nazarene) 6-0, 6-2
No. 4 — Kristen Lee (Westmont) defeated Leanne Piper (Point Loma Nazarene) 6-4, 6-2
No. 5 — Christina Klein (Westmont) defeated Brittany Hall (Point Loma Nazarene) 6-2, 6-2
No. 6 — Brooke Foster (Point Loma Nazarene) defeated Jennie Dunn (Westmont) 6-1, 6-2

No. 1 — Kristin Strimple / Kelsey Weir (Point Loma Nazarene) defeated Lauren Combs / Erin McGurty (Westmont) 8-3
No. 2 — Ilissa Mathews / Jennie Dunn (Westmont) defeated. Brittany Hall / Leanne Piper (Point Loma Nazarene) 8-2
No. 3 — Kristen Lee / Christina Klein (Westmont) defeated Brooke Foster / Taryn Zimmer (Point Loma Nazarene) 8-6.

Ron Smith is Westmont College‘s sports information director.