Le Mars girls tennis faces tough draws at individual regionals
LE MARS — Any home court advantage for the Le Mars girls tennis team was washed out by having to face off against some tough competition in Wednesday’s Class 1A regional singles and doubles tournament held at the high school, Westmar and golf course tennis courts.
As clouds gave way to sun and heat reaching the 90s, Le Mars had their two singles players and two doubles pairs knocked out of the bracket after the first round. Three of the four had to face eventual state qualifiers right away.
“What’s so hard about a day like today is most of the bracket goes to being drawn out of a hat,” Le Mars Head Coach Tifany Wright said. “It just goes to luck that I literally drew seeded players on two of the four. We were able to get our doubles team of Wright and Blezek seeded as No. 2, but then they drew Spirit Lake who is just a phenomenal tennis team.”
The closest the team came to advancing past the first round was with their top doubles team of Claire Blezek and Payton Wright. The Bulldogs earned the No. 2 seed, but their opening round draw was against Spirit Lake-Okoboji’s doubles team of Taylor Schneider and Abbie Oleson. Spirit Lake-Okoboji won the Lakes Conference title and are ranked No. 3 in the coaches poll.
The doubles match was close throughout, but the Bulldogs ended up falling short by identical 7-5 scores in both sets.
“They put up a good fight. They were playing really well. They were playing very smart and it was just a missed opportunity for a couple putaways at key moments,” Wright said. “A 5-7 score is a great score. It means it came down to one point here, one point there. We were playing with no-ad which means if we get to deuce, the next point wins. That’s a great position to be in if you win that point, but it’s a terrible position to be in if you lose it. They lost a couple of those at deuce which is hard. You want them back, but you can’t get them back.”
Olson and Schneider ended up being one of the doubles qualifiers after falling in a tiebreak in the championship match.
The other doubles team from Le Mars got stuck playing the overall No. 1 seed in the bracket in the first round. Katie Cunningham and Lexi Hurd ended up dropping their match to one of Spencer’s teams. Spencer is ranked No. 10 in the coaches poll. Kinsey Schroeder and Haley Berends won by a score of 6-0, 6-1 over the Le Mars team. Schroeder and Berends went on to win the doubles tournament to advance to state.
Singles play wasn’t kind to the Bulldogs either. Hannah Albrecht drew the top overall seed, Catherine Straus of Spirit Lake. Albrecht ended up dropping her match by a 6-0, 6-0 score. Straus went on to win the singles tournament to advance to state.
The team’s other singles player was Kirsten Tyler who faced Grace Johnson of Estherville-Lincoln Central in one of two play-in rounds to narrow the field from 18 down to 16. Johnson came away with the victory in that match by a 6-1, 6-0 score.
Le Mars will look to regroup before taking on Bishop Heelan in the first round of Saturday’s Class 1A regional team tournament in Le Mars. The Bulldogs lost 6-3 to their conference rivals in the final week of April.
“We lost to them earlier this season, but I feel it wasn’t our best day. It was the Monday after prom and we were a little flat,” Wright said. “I’m really excited for that opportunity to rematch them.”