DUNLAP – There was no way getting around it. The gales blowing across the Midwest would cripple Dunlap just the same Friday afternoon, and the tennis players from NorthWood and Concord would just have to deal with it.
Concord seemed to deal with it just a little more, and it eventually showed in a 4-1 win over the visiting Panthers in a showdown of Northern Lakes Conference hopefuls.
With Old Glory as stiff as a board on occasion from right to left, the court matchups more resembled a well-played ping pong game than a tennis match. High, looping shots sometimes didn’t make it down on the same court, solid winners on normal days were flying a foot out of bounds, service was spotty at best. But where NorthWood head coach Tif Schwartz noted her team struggled the most were intangibles.
“I didn’t feel like our footwork was good, especially in this type of wind,” Schwartz said. “I don’t think we adjusted to it well at all, and that’s something you can control. You can’t control 30 to 40 mile-per-hour wins blowing cross court. But you can control where you stand, how you approach the ball, and we just didn’t do a good job with it. Credit Concord for making those adjustments.”
Concord’s No. 1 doubles team of Keegan Thursby and Lauren Pollock were the first off the court, seemingly unphased by the distractions in a 6-1, 6-1 win over Riley Graber and Lauren Mikel.
Megan Godzisz, on the other hand, didn’t look comfortable on the No. 2 singles court opposite NorthWood’s Alex Jesse. But for all the drop shots Jesse was hitting, her forehands were carrying in the wind. Godzisz, as a result, went to the well often and came up roses on a 6-2, 6-1 winner.
NorthWood would get a team point back, with Gretchen Adams showing little emotion, nor effect, in her machine-like 6-3, 6-2 win over Lauren Boessler. Adams kept most of her winners low, which playing nearest the protected fence may have played a role in curtailing some of the wind for the No. 3s.
The one singles court was a possible Northern Lakes Conference tourney preview between Concord’s Regan Landis and NorthWood’s Reegan Miller. The two played a very entertaining match, as expected between friends off the court and doubles partners in the summer. But Landis took her position as Concord’s top hitter and looked sharp, rallying well and playing the smart drops when needed, then hitting cross courts with precision. Her 6-2, 6-1 win over Miller might have been the most impressive result of the day.
“Regan can adapt to just about anything,” said Concord head coach Jan Soward. “Her stamina and concentration, by far, give her an advantage and never waivers. She is the hardest type of player to play. She is always so focused. In conditions like these, one bad shot isn’t going to be the end of the world today.”
The two-hour mark approached as the No. 2 doubles court wrapped up, where Kelsee O’Dell and Kaylee Price buckled down and pulled out a 6-4, 6-4 result over Caroline Mullet and Kate Stillson.
“To see our doubles come through like they did, I was really impressed, because Tif always has good doubles teams,” Soward said.
Added Schwartz on the playing in the conditions in what could be an important match come tourney time in May, “We know we are going to see them again. But for today, all in all, we had a lot of games go to deuce at both singles and doubles, and unfortunately we didn’t have those games go our way. It’s highly unlikely we will play in conditions like this in the tournament next month, so maybe we’ll see some more competitive matches.”
Concord won the JV tallies 7-4. Court winners for NorthWood were Jessica Kramp and Ashlyn Feller in singles and in doubles were Abigail Richner and Paige Henschen, and Reese Barhydt and Maya Engbrecht.
NorthWood drops to 3-1 on the season, 0-1 in the NLC, while Concord improves to 2-1 and 1-0.