After a loss to Luverne in a home match last week, Marshall girls' tennis coach Holly Knudson talked about how her team needed to develop more match toughness. It didn't take her players long to take her words to heart.
Facing the top team in the Southwest Conference Tuesday, the Tigers put forth a fiery effort and handed visiting Redwood Valley its first SWC loss of the season. The dual came down to the No. 3 doubles match, where Marshall's team of Crista Schultze and Rachel Landmark defeated Mackenzie Jeseritz and Carli Grannes 3-6, 7-5, 6-2 as darkness began to fall.
Knudson said she was proud of the way her players responded to the challenge of facing one of the top teams in the area.
Photo by Matt Dahlseid
Marshall No. 3 singles player Jenna Gannott hits a return to Redwood Valley’s Ahnna Malecek during Tuesday’s Southwest Conference dual at Marshall High School. Gannott won the match 6-4, 7-5.
"When we played Luverne we were a little flat, we weren't that intense," Knudson said. "That's been our word is being more intense during matches. They brought that intensity out today and had a much better showing.
"(The win) feels good. There were a lot of close matches and it was nice to pull it out."
The win puts the Tigers in a three-way tie atop the SWC with Redwood Valley and Luverne, as each team has one conference loss.
Marshall got off to a quick start to the day when No. 2 singles player Julia Hartmann defeated Abi Einck 6-0, 6-0. The Tigers also got a singles win from No. 3 player Jenna Gannott, who defeated Ahnna Malecek 6-4, 7-5.
Even the Tigers who lost Tuesday put up a strong fight. At No. 1 singles, Marshall's Brooke Louwagie and Redwood Valley's Abby Schmidt traded blows and played several exhausting rallies before Schmidt escaped with a 7-6 (7-4), 7-5 win. And at No. 4 singles, Marshall's Anja Baumgarn nearly forced a third set but fell to Alissa Lueck 6-3, 7-5.
The Tigers had to dig deep for both of their wins in doubles play.
At No. 1 doubles, Marshall's Maggie Roy and Maddie Schoephoerster struggled in the first set but found a way to raise their level of play and defeated Callie Hansen and Madison Tholkes 1-6, 6-2, 7-5.
Then there was the No. 3 doubles match.
By the time Schultze and Landmark had battled back from a set down to force a third set, most of the other matches were over and it soon became clear their match would be the determining factor in deciding the winner between the two teams. With the pressure on them, Landmark (a junior) and Schultze (an eighth-grader) handled the situation as well as their coaches and teammates could have hoped and cruised to the 6-2 win in the third set.
Knudson said they got a little extra motivation from assistant coach Erik Hall, who was talking to Landmark and Schultze every chance he got in the third set.
"Coach Hall is very competitive, so if he can sniff a win, he's out there at every switch over," Knudson said. "He's just telling them to keep talking, keeping moving their feet and that they were going to win this.
"When it's a tight match I've kind of got butterflies in my stomach and let the girls work through things themselves, and he's the type of coach who's out there and in their ear whenever he gets a chance. We kind of complement each other well that way."
The Tigers will have to try to maintain their tough mindset for Thursday when Marshall resumes a home match against Sleepy Eye that was delayed due to a thunderstorm on Aug. 23. The Tigers will continue the match already down 2-0.
Marshall 4, Redwood Valley 3
1. Abby Schmidt (RV) def. Brooke Louwagie 7-6 (7-4), 7-5
2. Julia Hartmann (MAR) def. Abi Einck 6-0, 6-0
3. Jenna Gannott (MAR) def. Ahnna Malecek 6-4, 7-5
4. Alissa Lueck (RV) def. Anja Baumgarn 6-3, 7-5
1. Maggie Roy/Maddie Schoephoerster (MAR) Callie Hansen/Madison Tholkes 1-6, 6-2, 7-5
2. Alex Erie/Rebecca Einck (RV) def. Annie Samuelson/Brittany Soupir 6-4, 6-4
3. Crista Schultze/Rachel Landmark (MAR) Mackenzie Jeseritz/Carli Grannes 3-6, 7-5, 6-2