SYRACUSE — Wawasee girls tennis took its first loss of the season opposite defending Northern Lakes Conference champion Concord Tuesday night.
Not too worry, though — despite the 4-1 outcome, Lady Warriors coach Shane Staley was happy with his players’ performances against the IHSTeCA 24th-ranked Minutemen.
“I’m just happy with the way we played. We wanted to base our premium on our performance and not what the score was because we knew it was going to be tough, and I was happy with all my courts tonight,” said Staley.
Wawasee’s only match point came at 3 singles, where Elizabeth Kleopfer claimed a super tiebreaker win over Concord counterpart Lauren Boessler, 7-5, 4-6 (10-3). Kleopfer only narrowly closed out the first set and rallied back with two straight games while trailing 5-2 in the second set before taking firm control in the tiebreak.
“We’ve been working on mental toughness with her and a lot of the varsity players. She’s pulled other matches out like this. She’s really turning around and really pulling those important matches out like that. She’s not rattled,” said Staley of his number three.
“Three singles, you have to be physically fit. I think whoever is the most physically fit wins the match,” explained Concord coach Jan Soward. “It’s a total difference. It’s like 100 hit balls. She got tired after the first-set tiebreaker, and then she came back and won that (second) set. But then I think she got tired again during that 10-point tiebreaker. But I really am proud of what she did.”
Peyton Rookstool lost her 2 singles match with Meagan Godzisz 6-3, 6-0, while Kendra Doer fell 6-3, 6-1 to Regan Landis on the 1 singles court. Although she was only able to take four games from Landis, Staley thought Doerr dictated much of the play.
“At 1 singles, the score didn’t really show it as much as she really competed. I felt that she was really kind of pushing their number one around a lot and really just doing things that I’ve not seen her do before, so she’s really growing as a player,” said Staley.
“All three of our singles were in it the whole match. I think they’re really excited about that because we knew Concord was going to be one of the toughest ones coming in here. So it proves we have a really good shot at making a huge mark on the rest of the NLC this year.”
Kaitlin Graber and Molly Jones fell 6-2, 6-1 to Keegan Thursby and Lauren Pollock at 1 doubles, and Abby Morehead and Tate Cowan lost 6-1, 6-0 to Kelsee O’Dell and Kaylee Price.
Concord improves to 3-1 overall and 2-0 in the NLC, while Wawasee slides to a 6-1 start and 1-1 in the NLC with the loss to the Minutemen, who return five of their top seven from last season’s conference-championship campaign.
“When we started out 6-0, we haven’t had a team start out like that in more than a decade at Wawasee,” Staley said. “We’ve worked hard for it. The girls have been putting in the time. They believe in it, and a great supportive network we have her. We’ve had rough years leading up to this, so it’s nice to finally be kind of turning that corner. They’re in it for the rest of the season, so there’s lots more good things to come from this team.”
Also Tuesday, Wawasee’s JV fell 7-2 to Concord. Stephanie Ruiz and Brynn Jamora gave the Warriors a win at 3 doubles via an 8-5 decision over Maddie Copsey and Hope Sullivan, and Nicole Beer and Megan Mottern handed the Concord 4 doubles tandem of Alyssa McClendon and Daniell McIntosh an 8-1 defeat.
Wawasee tennis is back in action at Manchester Thursday at 5 p.m.