Seniors walk off in impressive fashion

It couldn’t have been more perfect. At the Helfaer Tennis Stadium on Saturday, two walk-ons walked off the courts knowing they had made a difference in their last match at home.

Maggie Wilson and Elly Strother earned well-deserved wins on their senior day this weekend, stepping up to secure a conference win over Rutgers, 5-2.

Wilson started the day at No. 1 doubles with sophomore Olga Fischer, a spot the pair has played at once before. At No. 2 doubles, the tandem is 0-9.

Their only win during the spring season came at No. 1 against Wisconsin-Milwaukee back in February.

“We can’t win at (No.) 2, but we can win at (No.) 1,” Wilson joked after Fischer helped her win her last home match. The pair is now undefeated at No. 1, with a 2-0 record.

Wilson said she went into Saturday’s match with a different mindset than usual.

“I didn’t want to spend my last home match nervous,” she said. “I always knew I was capable of putting that away, and I had to go up with the mentality of winning.”

Wilson and Fischer took No. 1, 8-5, and Marquette swept the doubles point.

Singles wins did not come easy, and it was clear both teams were on an even playing field.

Every woman fought for her point, with Fischer and Gillian Hush helping to pull an early lead with wins at Nos. 2 and 5, respectively.

Sophomore Paola Calderon fell after a hard-fought second set at No. 1, and then Strother broke out to harness the match point at No. 6.

It was Strother’s first appearance in dual play since February.

“It’s just a fabulous way to go out and leave Marquette, and I’m so happy I could step it up for the team,” Strother said. “It feels great to be the one to clinch it for the team.”

The match was crucial for the Golden Eagles, as it will likely decide seeding for the Big East tournament.

With the win, Marquette should be seeded above Rutgers and face a slightly less difficult path through the tournament.

“We knew it was important to us because if we got bumped down in the seedings, that first round match could be brutal,” coach Jody Bronson said. “Today we have positioned ourselves in a very good situation. … That’s what we were hoping for.”

Wilson said it was exciting to see her teammate’s success as Strother earned the winning point. For women who haven’t had significant opportunities to prove their worth this season, Bronson said that both seniors proved themselves long before Saturday’s match.

“(Strother) has put in four years of hard work and dedication to this team and hasn’t had opportunities like everybody else,” Bronson said. “You couldn’t have scripted it any better.”

Wilson was all smiles as she left the court.

“It’s senior day the way it should be,” she said.

While the day belonged to the seniors, freshman Kelly Barry continued to affirm that she will be a force to be reckoned with on the team.

Barry remained on the court long after the match was decided to fight tooth-and-nail for the point at No. 3. She ended successfully, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4), after an intense and exciting final set.

This weekend the team heads out to Indiana to face conference foes DePaul and Notre Dame in Notre Dame, Ind.

As both teams are ranked, success won’t come easy for the Golden Eagles.

Bronson said she thinks the team can be competitive enough to win and is looking for an upset.

“Our team needs to believe that and needs to know that on our best day, if we’re doing everything right, that we can do that,” she said.