Thursday night the Lady Warriors played their first Northern Lakes Conference match against Goshen, playing the match at Goshen College. It was a windy cold spring evening and also another down-to-the-wire finish.
On the varsity side, Peyton Rookstool, at #2 singles, was the hero of this night. During a 2-2 team tie, she dropped a heartbreaking second set tiebreaker 2-7 against last year’s #1 Anna Podgorski. Then at one set apiece, came back to rally into yet another tiebreaker and pulled off the win 7-3 to finish her night 6-3, 6-7, 7-6 and secure the team victory.
“I was impressed with Peyton’s play tonight,” Coach Staley commented after the match. “She has a history of being really hard on herself and letting some negative emotions through on court and tonight she battled through three sets, held her composure and positivity and won it for us. She’s a much-improved player this year, more consistent, smarter and mentally tougher, which made all the difference tonight.”
On the other singles courts, Kendra Doerr was back to her usual #1 performance, easily beating her opponent in straight sets 6-3, 6-1. Tuesdays hero, #3 Elizabeth Kleopfer, found herself in another stressful third set, but once again pulled everything together for a 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 victory.
“Getting Kendra back on track was a huge boost for us,” Coach Staley commented. “She’s our leader on-court and off and a really tough competitor and showed it tonight.” And what did Staley think about Kleopfer’s nail-biter? “The first new gray hair that I wake up with tomorrow morning, I’m naming it ‘Liz.’” Staley joked. “I was camped out on her court for more than an hour, hoping to will her through another tight match. There’s no better way to become mentally tough than to go through what’s she’s been through the last two matches. And we get her back next year as she’s only a junior, so I’m watching growth happen right before my eyes and I love it! She did an amazing job finishing it tonight.”
Wawasee’s doubles teams dropped both courts in straight sets to round out the final score of 3-2 in favor of the Lady Warriors. Staley contributed the losses to inexperience and tight play, but added that he had seen the teams working better together and getting signs that doubles might not be far off from contributing regularly to Wawasee’s success.
On the JV side, the script was flipped, but still victorious. All three singles courts dropped their matches, but Wawasee swept all six of its doubles matches to win 6-3. The team of Ava Harker and Becca Smith secured two of the wins at #1 and #6 doubles. Other match winners were #2 Casey Yankosky/Jada Carter, #3 Brynn Jamora/Katelyn Vetor, #4 Nicole Beer/Whitney DeLong, and #5 Lily Crighton/Megan Mottern.