Sporting fresh out of the box warmups, the Cardinal girls tennis team took on Little Hawkeye Conference foes Grinnell in Newton on Tuesday.
Despite losing Krystal Mapes, the Cards No.5 singles player on most days, to the flu, the Cardinals defeated Grinnell 7-4. Grinnell is considered one of the top teams in the conference, but the Cardinals asserted their dominance on the court, particularly in the doubles matchups.
The Cardinals’ top two singles players, Katelyn Camp and Katelin Klyn both struggled in their singles matches. Camp went up against Grinnell’s Lily Hamilton, who is the daughter of Grinnell College Womens’ Tennis coach Andy Hamilton. Camp struggled on some of her serves, and Hamilton was able to get some break points, ultimately defeating Camp 2-6, 4-6.
“Katelyn played very well against Lily, and it was a very even match,” Newton coach Erick Zehr said. “But, some uncharacteristic mistakes cost Katelyn some crucial points, and in the end it came down to a couple points. Lily is arguably the best player in the conference, and I think it will be a very interesting matchup if they get a chance to play again.”
Klyn lost two very tough sets to Jackie Johnson. Klyn looked sharp out of the gate in most of the games, but she let a couple big leads slip away from her and was defeated 4-6, 4-6.
Jennifer Venting scored the Cards first singles victory of the day on court number three. She defeated Kiara Peterson 6-1, 6-4. Holly Vander Pol also scored a singles win for Newton, this one on court four, winning 6-3, 6-4. The final singles victory for the Cardinals belonged to the lefty swinging Monica Corso in her first career singles match. She impressed to say the least, winning 6-1, 6-3.
“Jennifer dominated the first set, moving her opponent well and forcing her to hit tough shots. Jennifer’s unforced errors increased early in the second set, keeping it close at 5-4, but she was able to finish the set and match,” Zehr said. “Holly hit the ball very well, and did an excellent job of dictating the points. She was aggressive with her pace and placement, and would have blown out a lesser opponent. Monica was an absolute stud in her first ever singles match. She was consistent and aggressive, and cruised to a one-sided victory.”
The Cardinals dominated the doubles matches to earn the overall meet victory. Despite their combined two losses in singles play, Camp and Klyn made up a team that was not to be messed with, defeating Johnson and Peterson 6-3, 6-1. Ventining/Vander Pol matched up against Hamilton and Liz Nelson, winning 6-4, 7-6 in a tough contest. Corso/Combs took down their opponents 6-1, 6-4. And the final victory in doubles play for the Cardinals went to Sidney Griffith and McKenna Heisdorfer, winning 6-4, 6-3.
“Having split singles 3-3, I was cautiously optimistic headed into doubles,” Zehr said. “We had spent significant time working on our serves and volleys in the last week, and I was hoping it would come out in our doubles play. Possibly as a result, our doubles play was phenomenal. We jumped out to early leads in all five matches, largely due to aggressive net play. We took the first set in all 5 matches, and though most of the second sets were close, we only ended up dropping one second set.”
This bodes well for the Cardinals going forward. It proved to them as well as their opponents that they will definitely be in contention for a conference championship this season. They will not be taken lightly, and Zehr was especially proud of their effort on Tuesday.
This was a wonderful night for our girls,” Zehr said. “They all played so incredibly well, it is hard not to get carried away looking forward to the rest of the season. Grinnell is regularly among the class of the LHC, and this year is no different. They are very talented, and will be very tough the rest of the season. That is why it speaks such volumes to what our girls accomplished tonight. I just couldn’t be prouder of the girls.”
Their next meet is scheduled for Thursday at Oskaloosa, although the weather reports suggest that is a slim possibility. The next home meet is next Tuesday, April 23 against Pella.