Credit: Owen Roberts | Mustang News, 2023

Cal Poly Women’s Tennis dropped a championship matchup with the University of Hawaii on Saturday, April 29 at the Barnes Tennis Center in San Diego.

The Mustangs cruised through a pair of matches in the tournament before falling to the No. 1-seeded Rainbow Wahine.

Thursday vs. No. 7 UC Davis

Cal Poly started off the tournament hot with a 4-0 win over the Aggies. 

The Dunkle sisters stood out in the opening match of the tournament, helping earn three of the team’s total four points.

As partners on the top court, sophomore Peyton and redshirt junior Delanie dominated 6-1 against UC Davis’s top pairs. 6-1 was the largest margin of victory across doubles play. 

In singles, Peyton took a 6-3, 6-2 victory over No. 3 Michelle Zell. No. 4 Delanie won her first set 6-2 then left her opponent at love, 6-0, in set two. 

The final point came from No. 6 freshman Alexandra Ozerets in the form of a 6-2, 7-5 clincher. 

Friday vs. No. 6 CSUN

The Matadors were a doormat for Cal Poly, who came out with another 4-0 win.

The Mustangs opened up the round two matchups with wins from their No. 1 and No. 2 doubles pairings. The green and gold are 35-23 on the year in doubles play. 

The Dunkle sisters scrapped out a 7-6 (7-3) win. Following, No. 2 graduate Kimberley Bhunu and freshman Kennedy Buntrock also went into a tiebreaker, 7-6 (7-5), but the Mustangs came out on top again. 

In singles, courts No. 4, 5 and 6 advanced the Mustangs. No. 4 Delanie Dunkle tallied a win 6-2, 6-3 while Buntrock found the win column again in doubles via a 6-2, 7-5 victory. 

No. 6 Ozerets clinched the match again for the Mustangs in a three-set affair. She narrowly dropped set one 7-5 then notched back-to-back wins, 6-1, 6-4. 

Courts one through three went unfinished.

Saturday vs. No. 1 University of Hawaii

Cal Poly fell to the top-seeded University of Hawaii 4-2 in the Big West Championship. 

The Mustangs have now made it to the conference championship match three years in a row, but have not been able to get over the hump. 

One key difference this year is that the Mustangs were led by first-year head coach Ellie Edles Williams

“We battled hard, never gave up, and played to win,” Williams said to Cal Poly Athletics. “We had a tough start to the season, and even though the finals didn’t go our way today we had a great run. It’s not easy getting a new head coach, but this team fought through adversity, put their trust in me and I can’t thank them enough.”

In Saturday’s matchup, the Mustangs secured the doubles point again, however, it was no easy feat. 

Both wins on court one by the Dunkle sisters and court two with Bhunu and Buntrock went into tiebreakers. 

Bhunu is the only member of Cal Poly who played in the championship match and is not expected to return next season. The graduate can hold her head high on the 7-6 (7-3) doubles point clincher. 

“It’s been so special to coach Kim again in her final year,” Williams said to Cal Poly Athletics. “What she’s done for this program is truly amazing.”

Bhunu’s successes come on and off the court, but on the court, she earned All-Big West honors for singles and doubles play and spent the majority of her career at the top courts. 

The only other Mustang to pick up a point was Bhunu’s doubles partner Buntrock. 

On court five, Buntrock dropped set one 6-1. Despite the large loss, she completely came alive in sets two and three with consecutive shutout 6-0 victories. 

With the majority of the team returning, Cal Poly will look to take another step this offseason toward a conference championship.