Girls Tennis: Red Wing shakes off slow start, defeats Chaska
It was a nerve-wracking first hour for Red Wing girls tennis coach Matt Kavanagh.
Facing Chaska in Missota Conference play at home Thursday, the Hawks put an early scare into the Wingers as they pieced together wins in No. 3 singles and No. 3 doubles.
“We knew Chaska was going to be a tough team; they lost 4-3 to Shakopee, just like we did earlier this year,” Kavanagh said.
Fortunately, Red Wing was able to take control of the match and put their head coach’s mind at ease, winning the rest of the matches for a 5-2 conference victory at Twin Bluff Middle School.
Playing at No. 1 singles on Thursday, Red Wing’s Emily Stegora faced a strong challenge from Chaska’s Lauren Willkom as they played to a 6-6 first-set tie. In the tiebreaker, Stegora finally got into a groove, winning 7-4 to take the first set.
“I had to make sure I stayed positive and kept balls in play,” Stegora said. “I started to get more comfortable and started to get to the net more and kept (Willkom) running.”
Riding that wave of momentum, Stegora clinched the match with a 6-4 second-set victory.
Emily Otteson secured a 6-4, 7-5 victory at No. 2 singles over Morgan Jensen, and Claire Carson gave the Wingers their third solo victory with a 6-3, 6-2 win against Chaska’s Hailey Rolff.
At No. 2 doubles, Red Wing’s pairing of Lauren Brooks and Serena Feehan was dealt a harsh blow in the first set, falling 7-5 to Taylor Flood and Carly Lubansky.
As Red Wing continues to look for an optimal lineup, it comes at a price as the team acclimates on the court.
“Since we’ve been mixing up the doubles, it takes a bit of time for us to get comfortable,” Feehan said. “And in that first set, we were playing not to lose instead of playing to win.”
Brooks and Feehan finally got into a groove in a 6-2 second-set victory, and the duo did not relent in the third, winning 6-0 to claim the victory.
“We just really had to think about each stroke instead of thinking, ‘Oh gosh, we have to get this point,’” Feehan said. “All we were worried about was winning that next stroke.”
The Wingers’ No. 1 team of Solveig Christenson and Nicole Schammel got the team’s other doubles win, beating Allie Reineke and Bri Forbrook 6-4, 6-4.
On Saturday, Red Wing heads to the Rochester John Marshall tournament. Joining the Wingers and the Rockets in the field are Cannon Falls, Lake City, Robbinsdale Armstrong, Owatonna, Apple Valley and La Crosse (Wis.).