The Newton girls tennis program was, for all intents and purposes, in shambles less than three years ago, but on Thursday, the team received some of the best news in its history. The doubles team of Jennifer Ventling and Holly Vander Pol earned a trip to state following its victories at the individual regional meet in Cedar Rapids.
This came as a huge surprise to the rest of the competitors in the field, as Ventling and Vander Pol went unseeded to start the day (seeding is done via coaches’ votes). In its first match, the team took on the team from Des Moines Hoover, and the Cardinal girls blew past them without dropping a game, winning 6-0, 6-0. That win set up a match against Ankeny.
The Cards then won 7-4 to advance to play Des Moines Lincoln, the No. 1 overall seed. Up 4-2 in the first set, the girls played a game with the DSM Lincoln team that went to deuce 11 times, and included two game-points for Lincoln. The Cards battled through that game, though, and won going away the rest of the match. They did not drop a game from then on to get the 6-2, 6-0 win, and qualify for state.
“As a team, we were hoping to send at least one player to state coming into this season,” Ventling said. “I just did not expect to be one of them. It feels awesome, and it’s something I will carry with me for the rest of my life.”
“It feels really good,” Vander Pol added. “It’s kind of surreal actually. The biggest thing this year has been the support we’ve gotten from our teammates. Everyone really wants each other to do well.”