A dominant performance from Lane’s first doubles opened up the girls tennis team’s conference opener Thursday afternoon, and a dominant performance from Lane’s third doubles closed it.
In between, Lane saw struggles, falling in both singles matches to the Northside Mustangs, but the opening and closing wins, alongside one more victory from second doubles, was enough to put Lane on top, 3-2, at Horner Park.
This was the first time Lane had played a normal conference match in two years, and they made the most of it, eking out a victory over Northside.
“I think pulling out a win today was really important for the girls,” Head Coach Jeffrey Batt said following the victory. “It’s a conference match — we haven’t been out here like this since COVID hit.”
First doubles Mary Rau and Shawn Wilke wasted no time, winning 6-0 in straight sets over Northside’s Anne Wilber and Sofie Migon. From first serve to the final point, the players were on the court for under 45 minutes.
“Me and Shawn have known each other a long time, so we play really well together and I think we’ve just been playing long enough to the point where we’re just comfortable with our shots in general, so [tonight] was pretty low stress,” said Rau, Div. 354.
Strong play in the back from Rau, including powerful serving, and a mix of different types of hits from Wilke and Rau carried Lane to an early 1-0 lead in the match.
“I thought our serves were pretty good,” Rau said. “We were getting most of our first serves in, smashing some, making those girls really try to hit it over, and they couldn’t, so that was definitely helpful.”
Playing two courts down from Rau and Wilke, second doubles pair Kael Carmona and Logan Kane capitalized on a few errors from Caiden Reichman-Crowley and Hailey Keating of Northside.
Strong hits returns from Carmona and Kane throughout the match was all they would need, cruising to a victory in straight sets (6-1, 6-2).
While it was smooth sailing for Lane on the even courts, which held doubles matches, the odd courts with the two singles matches saw some troubles
Freshman Aleissia Olson, who competed in Lane’s first singles spot, saw issues from the start, opening her match against Northside’s Hannah Kaczor with a double fault.
Olson was able to recover in the first set, taking it 6-2, but struggled the rest of the way, dropping the second set 6-4 and losing the tiebreaker third set 10-3 (the tiebreaking set was first to 10 points in today’s match). Olson looked trapped most of the match, staying in the backside of the court throughout, while Kaczor was much more active.
“This is only her second match of her high school career, but she stepped up to first,” Batt said of Olson. “So we saw her go up in the first set 6-2 against a senior, someone who’s been on [the] team for four years. [She] was up halfway through the second set and then started to drop, so we’ve got to work on conditioning, we got to work on how to finish those points at the end, [we] really got to concentrate on each individual point and not look ahead to where the match is going, but concentrate and stay focused.”
Lane saw the struggles continue in the second singles match as Maya Wagner Tyree fell in straight sets (6-3, 6-3) to Northside’s Rosalie Schneider.
Tyree showed some strong returns throughout the match, but many of them were sent right back by Schneider, keeping the Mustang’s hope at an overall match victory alive.
With Lane winning the first two double matches and Northside winning the two single matches, it all came down to third doubles, which started late because there are only four courts at Horner.
Maya Miniati and Nova Gladden took an easy first set for Lane over Northside’s Gaya Garapaty and Willa Kennedy, 6-2, and held off a rally from the Mustangs to take the second set 6-3. Forceful hitting from Miniati and Gladden was just what Lane needed to seal the conference win.
“I think the most important part is they came out here ready to play, ready to win, and you saw the doubles teams click, and that’s what we need to see, especially [in the] first conference match of the season,” Batt said.
Lane will continue their conference slate next Monday, Sept. 9, taking on Lake View on the road at Chase Park starting at 3 p.m.
“I think we’ll make a couple changes, probably in the bottom of the lineup, get a little more momentum on the ball,” Batt said. “We’ll see what happens.”