By Dean Boerner | Sports Editor

In a tightly-contested battle in the first round of the West Coast Conference Championships, sixth-seeded BYU outlasted the third-seeded Gaels 4-3, ending the Gaels season on Thursday at Biszantz Family Tennis Center in Claremont, Calif. With the upset, the Cougars exacted some revenge by eliminating a Gaels team that had defeated them 4-2 earlier in the same week.

Saint Mary’s began Thursday with impressive play in doubles action. Kareena Manji and Jana McCord teamed up to defeat BYU’s Kate Cusic and Taylah Beckman 6-2. Saint Mary’s dropped one doubles match when Savannah Ware and Natella Nabeiva defeated Emma Critser and Danielle McIntyre 6-4, but the Gaels team of sophomore Clementine Clement and freshman Jacqueline Pelletier came through with a 7-6 (2) over Samantha Smith and Demi Perkinson to give Saint Mary’s the doubles point.

In singles play, it was BYU who came out on fire. Natella Nabeiva and Savannah Ware won on courts one and two, respectively. Those two wins helped put BYU up 3-1 and on the verge of victory.

But Saint Mary’s wouldn’t go down without a fight. Freshman Danielle McIntyre took down Alana Bourgeois on court six 6-3, 2-6, 6-4. Then Clement came with a win of her own on court three, as she downed Cusic 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 to pull the Gaels even at 3-3.

In an epic battle unfolding on court four between Manji and Smith, each player took a set on a tiebreaker to force a third and deciding set. In the end, Smith found a way to push BYU over the edge with a 6-3 win that gave the Cougars the 4-3 team victory and entry into the conference tournament semifinals.

With their season coming to a close, the Gaels will look ahead to next season, when they’ll be without the services of seniors McCord and Parminder Kaur. Nevertheless, head coach Lisa Alipaz has the talent of young players like Pelletier and McIntyre to mix with more experienced players like Manji, Clement, Critser, and Vanessa Nommensen in the Gaels’ bid to challenge perennial WCC powerhouse Pepperdine.

Before the tournament last Thursday, McCord received All-WCC Second Team Singles honors, while the doubles team of McCord and Manji received Second Team Doubles honors thanks to their 7-4 record as a doubles team. In addition, Pelletier earned a selection as an All-WCC Singles Honorable Mention.

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