In what one could call a tune-up match for their Tuesday afternoon showdown against Little Hawkeye Conference rival Pella Christian, the Newton girls tennis team rolled over the Saydel Eagles in a clean sweep, 11-0.
The Cards knew that Tuesday’s meet with PC will be a de facto LHC title match. So with that in mind, Newton coach Erick Zehr made some strategic moves as well as a couple sentimental moves.
First, he sat the team’s usual No. 1 player in Katelyn Camp to make sure she was fresh for the PC meet. And second, he allowed senior Kate Hinshaw, who had never participated in a singles match at the varsity level, to compete on Monday.
“Today was another good win for us. This has been a very positive season, and I am hoping this gives us the confidence and the momentum we need going into our meet Tuesday with PC,” Zehr said. “Our girls have handled the pressure of big moments much better this year. That was something we struggled with last year, but that is one of the many areas we have improved. Hopefully all their hard work will pay off in the end.”
The singles ladder was a breeze for the Cardinals with no player dropping more than three games in any set. No. 1 player Jennifer Ventling rolled through her match with Clare Smith 6-2, 6-0. Katelin Klyn did the same to her opponent, winning 6-1, 6-1. Holly Vander Pol got her victory before anybody else in the quickest match of the day. Vander Pol won 6-1, 6-0. Krystal Mapes beat Sydney Samples 6-2, 6-3. Caitlin Combs won her match in the five spot 6-0, 6-1. And the aforementioned Hinshaw won her match 6-3, 6-3.
On the doubles side, things were much tighter, but the Cards still managed to take care of business on all five ends. Vander Pol/Combs won their match 6-2, 5-7, 1 (11). Ventling/Klyn won theirs easily by a score of 6-0, 6-1. Mapes/Hinshaw won in straight sets as well by a score of 6-2, 7-5. Hannah Squire and Sidney Griffith won their match easily 6-1, 6-3. Lastly, Kora Scotton and Lauren Henderson won 6-7 (4), 6-3, 1 (9).
“Jennifer played her first match as No. 1 and handled it pretty well, especially as the match went on. Our girls really excelled early in singles, and put the meet away early,” Zehr said. “Kate played her first varsity singles match and played a very underrated opponent at No. 6 singles. Casey Brown was probably one of the top three or four players on their team, and she was locked in a tough battle with Kate. I was really proud of our seniors for pulling out tough matches. Kate, Kora and Lauren were thrust into new roles tonight, and they handled themselves well.”
That showdown with PC will take place today at 4:30 p.m. at Aurora Heights Park.