Opportunities escape Bobcats
The early rounds couldn’t have gone better for the Marshalltown girls tennis team in their Class 2A Region 5 singles and doubles tournament at Cedar Falls on Wednesday.
On the doubles side, the team of Emily Miller and Mary Kate Gruening was seeded third and the team of Madi Finch and Olivia Brintnall was seeded fourth, meaning both received byes into the quarterfinals.
In singles, Grace Fisher started her day with a quick 6-0, 6-0, first-round win over Kseniya Landar from Waterloo West, while Hel Ter fell to Eva Shepard from Waterloo West but fought hard in a 6-2, 6-2, decision.
That win for Fisher would prove to be the only of the day for the Bobcats, however, as Fisher would lose in the singles quarterfinals to Jamie Knox from Cedar Falls, 6-1, 6-2, Brintnall and Finch lost in three sets to Payton Carpenter and Eden Lewerke from Mason City, 4-6, 6-2, 6-0, and Miller and Gruening lost in a close match to Grace Henrich and Lauren Andrews for the Mohawks, 7-5, 7-6.
MHS head girls tennis coach John Fiscus said ultimately he couldn’t help but feel the girls didn’t capitalize on the opportunities before them.
“The girls played hard, it’s a beautiful day and everything, but we just didn’t compete as well as we could have,” he said. “I was a little letdown there, we got some people seeded so we got them through the first round seed-wise, we were battling but the outcome wasn’t what we wanted.”
Brintnall and Finch were up 5-2 early in their first set against Carpenter and Lewerke before eventually taking the 6-4 win, but after that first victory Fiscus said the girls couldn’t capture the magic again.
“They had a letdown and stopped moving their feet, then they got behind and were chasing the ball a lot,” he said. “We weren’t making the other girls work hard enough, and they were making us work a lot harder, and that’s what you always want to do, make the other team work harder.”
Miller and Gruening were put in a bad spot from the start. Henrich and Andrews were locked in a tight, three-set match in the first round, and because of that it wasn’t until three hours after the start of the meet that the top Bobcat duo was able to get on the court.
“It’s a long day sitting, I told them that it’s almost better off if they had played right away,” Fiscus said. “It didn’t work out that way, we had to wait a lot longer and didn’t get started until noon, and when we left so early from Marshalltown that kind of wears you out mentally more than anything.”
After dropping the first set, 7-5, Miller and Gruening were down 5-2 in the second and on the brink of elimination. They didn’t go down quietly, however, as the pair won the next four games to take a 6-5 lead before ultimately losing in the set tiebreaker.
“They battled back to the tiebreaker, got down in the tiebreaker, fought back in the tiebreaker and then just faltered there at the end,” Fiscus said.
As for his singles competitors, Fiscus said he was pleasantly surprised with both of their performances.
“Hel Ter played great, since it’s her senior year it was good to see that,” he said. “I’m happy with Grace, this is her first year out and to have her come here and play in this environment and get a win, that was good.”
Though they failed to qualify anyone for the state singles and doubles tournament, the season isn’t over for the Bobcats. Marshalltown head back up to Cedar Falls on Saturday to face the Tigers in the semifinals of the 2A Region 4 dual team tournament at 9 a.m., and Fiscus said the disappointment of Wednesday’s result will hopefully fuel a good match against a tough opponent.
“We know Cedar Falls is a very good team, our backs are against the wall but we want to come out fighting and finish the year off playing tough,” he said.