Girls Tennis: Wingers duo keeps cruising; Sabers come away with win
In just four matches, Red Wing's No. 3 doubles team of McKenzie Muelken and Serena Feehan has proven to be a battle-tested duo.
In the last three matches, Muelken and Feehan have overcome shaky starts on the way to big victories in the second and third sets.
At this point, Muelken and Feehan are playing and thinking like a team.
"I think we really play well together," Feehan said. "Her forehand is amazing."
Immediately, Muelken chimed in, "Her backhand is amazing. We make a good pair."
Against the defending Missota Conference champion Sabers at Twin Bluff Middle School, Muelken and Feehan found themselves in familiar territory. The Red Wing duo struggled out of the game, losing their first set, 6-3, to Shakopee's Abby Wondrasch and Maddie Myers.
And like they have done in their previous two matches, Muelken and Feehan pulled it together in the second set to win 6-3. But instead of winning the third set in convincing fashion, the Wingers' pair had to slug it out in the decisive third set.
"We really try to take it one point at a time and don't let the pressure get to us," Feehan said. "We both play badly under pressure, so we try to keep each other in check and try to help each other calm down."
Ultimately, Muelken and Feehan notched another victory, clinching the third set with a 7-5 score.
"Almost every single point, we're saying, 'One point at a time,'" Muelken said. "It's out little slogan."
While the No. 3 doubles team picked up another win, the Wingers came out on the short end on Thursday, falling 4-3 to the Sabers in the first conference meet of the season.
"This played out like I thought it would," said Red Wing head coach Randy Decker. "They're stacked up top at No. 1 and 2 singles, and our team has a lot of depth."
The Sabers' top two singles players on Thursday, Haley Lickford and Dannick Boyogueno, set the tone for Shakopee, winning in identical 6-1, 6-1 victories.
"We ran a strong singles lineup for today's match," Decker said. "But they're so strong up top. And they moved one of their top singles players into their No. 1 doubles."
Freshman Morley Struss got the Wingers' lone win in singles, beating Amber Kale 6-1, 6-0.
In doubles, Red Wing's No. 2 pair, Lauren Brooks and Katie Carlson, pushed Shakopee's Kayla Schmidt and Jes Svac to three sets, winning the third set in a 7-3 tiebreaker. Brooks and Carlson won the match 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (7-3).
"We came up a little bit short," Decker said, "but we still had a shot.
"I can move around some of our singles players into doubles when I need to. This year, we got to go by the matchups. Today, we ran into a strong Sabers lineup."
Looking to stay over the .500 mark, the Wingers hit the road on Saturday for a quadrangular meet in Waseca, which will also feature Mankato West and LeSueur-Henderson.