Bobcats withstand Wahawks at the net
MHS girls edge Waterloo West in regionals
A two-match headstart went a long way to assuage the fears Marshalltown High School girls’ tennis coach John Fiscus had heading into Saturday’s Class 2A Region 3 opener against Waterloo West.
So did the way his team played.
The Bobcats advanced through the first round of team regionals with a 5-3 victory over Waterloo West, responding well after more than a week off and showing little sign of rust.
The visiting Wahawks (1-17) arrived with but played without their top singles player, as senior Kathleen Hepworth was unable to compete due to an apparent back injury. Waterloo West forfeited at the No. 1 singles position and the No. 2 doubles spot as a result, handing the host Bobcats an early 2-0 advantage.
But Waterloo West rose to the challenge and forced Marshalltown (3-10) to earn the deciding fifth match victory in the best-of-nine format.
“It definitely helped having a victory before it really even started, and we really needed it obviously because it was a tight match,” Fiscus said. “It was good. West came to play and our girls did too and it was a good battle.”
The Bobcats took a 4-3 match lead into the only two doubles bouts to be contested, due to the forfeit, and needed to win just one to claim the dual. Within two minutes of each other, Marshalltown’s Nos. 1 and 3 doubles teams completed their straight-set victories to send the Bobcats to the next round.
“The girls really just played their match the way they’ve been working on all year, they just keep on trying to improve and get better and looking for different angles,” Fiscus said. “(Assistant) coach (Chad) Spear and I try to keep it real calm and easy and make sure the girls are very level-headed and not put any added pressure on that they don’t put on themselves. We told them to just play your game and we’ll deal with the outcomes afterward.”
Marshalltown’s top doubles tandem of Cassandre Lecompte and Regan Smith battled back and forth with Waterloo West’s Ava Shepard and Sarah Rizvic, finally completing the 6-4, 6-4 triumph mere moments for the Bobcats’ No. 3 doubles team did the same. Kaitlyn Tiernan and Emily Diggins outlasted Avaya Burnside and Chloe Corpman for the 7-5, 6-4 win shortly after the final outcome of the dual had been decided.
Second only to the win, Fiscus wanted to be certain that his players were match ready after an eight-day layoff between the end of the regular season and the start of regionals. The Bobcats also host the individual regional tournament on Wednesday at 9 a.m. at the Marshalltown Court Complex.
“I just wanted to make sure the girls were healthy because it’s been over a week since we’ve played, and it was good that Cass got to play some doubles today because there’s been a little bit of a concern about her with a little injury,” he said of his top singles player. “But I think she’s pretty much over it and I think that showed in doubles because she didn’t get to play singles, so it was good that she had that extra little rest too.”
Smith secured a 6-3, 7-5 victory over Shepard, and Diggins defeated Corpman 6-1, 6-1, to help the Bobcats move into doubles play with a 4-3 lead.
The win moves Marshalltown into the regional quarterfinals against No. 3 Cedar Falls (14-1). The Tigers will host the Bobcats on May 22 at 9 a.m.
The two teams will get a preview glimpse of each other on Wednesday in Marshalltown’s individual regional tournament, along with Cedar Rapids Jefferson, Cedar Rapids Prairie, Waterloo East and Waterloo West. The Bobcats will align with Lecompte and Rebekah Downs playing singles, while Smith and Brianna Hargrave will play at No. 1 doubles and Tiernan and Diggins will play No. 2 doubles in the quest for a state tournament berth.
“We’ll go to Cedar Falls to compete,” Fiscus said. “Two years ago we had the same situation and we came out hardly winning any games. It’s going to be a very tough battle but we just need to play, come out and play and learn. We’re still young, we want them to get all the experiences that they can have so they can see this is where we need to go to.”
Marshalltown 5, Waterloo West 3
Cassandre Lecompte (MHS) def. Kathleen Hepworth by injury default
Regan Smith (MHS) def. Ava Shepard, 6-3, 7-5
Sarah Rizvic (WW) def. Rebekah Downs, 6-1, 6-4
Lily Duncan (WW) def. Brianna Hargrave, 7-6 (7-5), 6-3
Avaya Burnside (WW) def. Kaitlyn Tiernan, 7-6 (7-3), 6-2
Emily Diggins (MHS) def. Chloe Corpman, 6-1, 6-1
Lecompte and Smith (MHS) def. Shepard and Rizvic, 6-4, 6-4
Downs and Hargrave (MHS) def. Hepworth and Duncan by injury default