Bulldog boys tennis starts season with a bang; Teams split with Cherokee

Friday, April 7, 2017
(Sentinel Photo By Allen Hamil) Above, Elizabeth Ihrke sends the ball back over the net. Ihrke picked up a win over her opponent from Cherokee on Thursday by a score of 10-2.

Correction- Megan Friedenbach won her match 10-7 and the girls team fell by a score of 5-4 to Cherokee. An earlier version of this story stated Friedenbach lost 10-2 and the final score was 6-3 because of this result.

LE MARS — Sioux City East was no match for the Le Mars Community boys tennis team on Tuesday. The Bulldogs controlled the match from start to finish and came away with a 9-0 victory.

“We were a little tight a first, but we worked it out,” Head Coach Bill Dalton said. “It was a pretty good match for our first outing. Everybody started well as far as their effort.”

All six of the singles matches lasted just one set with none close in outcome. In the number one spot Jake Malik won 10-2 over Calan Mathey.

In the two and three spots, Jake Thompson and Zach Wingert each won 10-1. Thompson defeated Ryan McClintock and Wingert took down Oscar Brienzo.

“Jake Malik, the number one of ours, really played lights out,” Dalton said. “Jake Thompson and all the returners like Kyle Marek had good strokes.”

Jacob Pottebaum won 10-2 out of the four spot while Luis Barrera and Caleb Kettelson ended with 10-3 wins to round out the singles matches.

The doubles matches were even more dominant. The second pairing of Bulldogs which included Malik and Wingert blanked their opponents for a 10-0 win.

Marek teamed up with Thompson to come away with a 10-1 win while Barrera joined Jeff Ahlers to win by an identical score.

The boys tennis team picked up right where they left off on Tuesday by sweeping Cherokee on the road on Thursday 9-0.

While the team is playing well, Dalton would like to see the team clean up and improve in a few areas.

“We didn’t place our feet in for good shots at times,” Dalton said. “We could have gotten there earlier and set up our shots better, but overall it’s about how high these kids want to go and I think their heart is in it so we’re pretty excited with the group we’ve got.”

The night saw Marek and Wingert blank their opponents 10-0 out of the number two and four spots, respectively.

Malik and Ahlers each won their matches by scores of 10-1. They competed in the number one and five places.

Out of the number three slot, Thompson won his match 10-2 while Jacob Pottebaum had the closest match of the day, but still won by a decisive score of 10-3.

The doubles matches were similarly uneven with Marek and Thompson winning the first doubles match 10-2.

Malik and Wingert teamed up for a 10-3 victory while Ahlers and Berrera won 10-4.

“A little inconsistency on everybody I think,” Dalton said. “At times we look like we’re solid, but then we kind of fell asleep. We’ve got to work on that, staying focused.”

The girls team faced a tougher task at home against the Braves and fell 5-4.

Girls coach Tifany Wright said the team can now go back and see what they can work to get better on.

“Although I was disappointed with the loss, I see a lot of good things we can improve on,” Wright said. “The first match of the season is always so educational. It is obvious right away what we need to focus on more in practice. But it is so fun to see all the things we have learned so far come together.”

The top of the order saw the most success for the Bulldogs as Elizabeth Ihrke turned up the heat after a bit of a sluggish start and won 10-2 over Jordan Bingham.

(Sentinel Photo By Allen Hamil) Above, Mary Meis runs down a cross court attack on Thursday. Meis endured a marathon match and came away with a 10-7 victory.

Mary Meis came out of the two spot with a hard-fought win 10-7.

“Mary had the marathon match of the day with a lot of long rallies and great shot making,” Wright said. “She played so smart and just battled.”

In another marathon match, Jessica Eisma fought back from a 5-2 deficit to pull to within a point, but ended up falling 10-7 to Dusty Wright.

Emily Van Otterloo faced a tough opponent out of the four position as she went up against Clare Conley who was last year’s number one for Cherokee. Van Otterloo fell 10-1.

Rookies Maddy Mahan and Megan Friedenbach split their matches 4-10 and 10-7, but Wright was encouraged by what she saw from the pair.

“Maddy played a pretty solid game. This is her first career varsity match and I was proud of the way she battled. She never gave up and you could see her learning and improving throughout the match,” Wright said. “Megan also was playing her first varsity match. She came out strong out of the gate and was up 6-1. She ended up giving up 5 out of the next 6 games. But her mental toughness showed through. She could have easily been discouraged but she just kept hustling.”

In the doubles matches it was close for most of the night.

“Cherokee is always strong in doubles and I knew it would be a battle,” Wright said. “The doubles matches did not disappoint. There were a lot of deuce games in all the matches. It was really fun to watch.”

Ihrke and Eisma clawed out a 10-8 win in their doubles match, the only doubles win for the Bulldogs. Meis and Van Otterloo dropped a 10-6 decision in the number two doubles. Mahan and Friedenbach ended up falling 10-2.

“I love the teamwork that comes with doubles,” Wright said. “We have some really strong net players and it will be fun to see how they improve this season.”

The Bulldogs return to action against Spirit Lake on Monday. The girls (0-1) will be on the road while the boys (2-0) will be at home.

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