PELLA — Domination may not be a strong enough word for the work Newton’s girls have put in on the tennis courts the past two days. The Cardinals have won 34 out of 34 matches against four teams.
It all started with a 12-match run at home in a varsity triangular Monday. Newton defeated North Polk and Saydel in non-conference action.
Then Tuesday, the Cardinals stepped back into Little Hawkeye Conference play against Pella Christian’s Eagles and Pella Community High School’s Lady Dutch. They swept 22 conference matches, playing in two different places in Pella.
With the sweep of LHC matches Tuesday, the Cardinal girls are set to win their second straight Little Hawkeye Conference regular-season title. Newton head coach Erick Zehr pointed out for the Cardinals, who are 5-0 in conference, it would be the first time in school history for the girls tennis team to win back-to-back conference championships.
“The worst we can finish is 5-1 following our final meet vs. Knoxville on Thursday. Even if we were to lose to Knoxville, we would still hold the tiebreaker over any other school with one loss, since Knoxville has already lost more than once,” Zehr said. “In other words, regardless of the outcome of Thursday’s meet, we will end the season as regular season conference champions.”
In the LHC doubleheader, the Cardinals began at Pella Christian. Newton’s singles players all won in straight sets and no singles player lost more than four total games in the two-set matches.
Maria Valbuena beat Andrea De Bruin, 6-2, 6-1, in No. 1 singles while Newton’s Jennifer Ventling and Holly Vander Pol won their No. 2 and No. 3 singles matches by identical, 6-1, 6-3 score. They beat Claire Van Weelden and Addison Van Weelden of Pella Christian, respectively.
Newton’s No. 4 singles player, Monica Corso, beat the Eagles’ Rachel Tveldt, 6-1, 6-0. McKenna Heisdorffer recorded a 6-4, 6-0 win over Andrea Carballo at No. 5 singles and Kayla Corso completed the sweep for Newton with a 6-1, 6-0 victory over Abbie Vander Molen.
Against the Eagles in doubles competition, Ventling and Vander Pol won by forfeit at No. 1 doubles. Valbuena and Heisdorffer beat De Bruin and Tvedt, 3-6, 6-2, 1 (8) at No. 2 doubles. M. Corso and K. Corso rolled up a 6-3, 6-0 win over Carballo and VanMaanen in No. 3 doubles.
Marisa Modlin and Sierra Griffith held off Vander Molen and Milby for a Newton win in No. 4 doubles, 6-3, 1-6, 1 (10). Newton’s Halie Owens and Megan Pressgrove posted a 6-1, 6-1 win over Matherly and Van Gorp.
Action moved to Pella Community High School’s courts. Zehr said Pella was finishing a dual with Boone when the Cardinals arrived. The format changed for the Cardinal-Lady Dutch matches, as they moved to a 10-game pro set instead of full matches in interest of time, he said.
Starting things off for the Cardinals were the No. 4 and No. 5 doubles teams, winning. Modlin and Griffith earned a 10-8 victory over Williams and Wilborn. Owens and Pressgrove battled to claimed an 11-10 win in a tiebreaker.
“This was the match of the night. Halie and Megan found themselves going back and forth with their opponents, neither team ever leading by more than a game, and eventually going into a tiebreaker at 10-10 in the set. The 7-point tiebreaker would continue in the same amazing fashion,” Zehr said.
“Both teams fought off a combined nine match points, pushing the tiebreaker to 14-14 before we finally won consecutive points to take the set and match. I was extremely impressed by those two for the composure they showed in those high stakes points — that was a win you would expect from seasoned veterans or seniors, but this is both their first year on Varsity, and Megan’s first year playing tennis at all.”
In the other doubles matches, Ventling and Vander Pol won 10-2 against Sami Wassenaar and Bri Buzick at No. 1 and Valbuena and Heisdorffer defeated Molly Kalkwarf and Alli Dingeman, 10-3, at No. 2. The Corso sisters picked up a 10-6 win over Lauren Kriegel and Anna Jaarsma in the No. 3 doubles match.
Valbuena cruised to a 10-1 win in No. 1 singles for Newton over Wassenaar. Ventling beat Kalkwarf, 10-2, in No. 2 singles. Vander Pol posted a 10-6 win over Buzick in No. 3 singles.
Monica Corso beat Kriegel, 10-8, at No. 4 singles. Heisdorrfer defeated Dingeman, 10-6, at No. 5 singles, and Kayla Corso posted a 10-3 win over Jaarsma at No. 6 singles.
“It was a great feeling going down to Pella and winning all 22 matches. I don’t know how many seasons Newton has had where they can claim that accomplishment. Our girls have come so far in the span of this season it is unbelievable,” Zehr said.
The Cardinals have won 52 matches and losing only three, including 34 straight, since April 22. Since conference play began, Newton’s girls have won 15 of the 20 tiebreakers they have been involved in, including seven of the last eight, Zehr pointed out.
Newton winds up the regular season at home Thursday against Knoxville. Matches begin at 4:15 p.m. at Aurora Heights Park. On Monday, the Cardinals go to Grinnell for the Little Hawkeye Conference tournament.
The week’s journey began at home Monday in a non-conference triangular with North Polk and Saydel. Here are the Newton results from that meet:
No. 1 singles
Maria Valbuena def. Mallory Aves, North Polk, 10-1; def. Sydney Samples, Saydel, 10-3
No. 2 singles
Holly Vander Pol def. Emily Merkle, North Polk, 10-2; def. Mackenzie Miller, Saydel, 10-2
No. 3 singles
Marisa Modlin def. Vivi Schaeublin, North Polk, 10-6; def. Michaela Bobenhouse, Saydel, 10-8.
No. 1 doubles
Monica Corso and Kayla Corso def. Casey Brown and Mackenzie Carter, Saydel, 10-8; def. Carly Madson and Madison Nelson, North Polk, 10-4.
No. 2 doubles
Halie Owens and Megan Pressgrove def. Melanie Gustafson and Leah Silver, Saydel, 10-9 (4); def. McClane Gill and Brianne Schultz, North Polk, 10-5.
No. 3 doubles
Sam Cooling and Brenda Becerra def. Randa Patrick and Kendal Walker, Saydel, 10-2; def. Shelby Berksland and Rebekah Long, North Polk, 10-7.