By Jason Haddix
For The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. —
The howling winds at Highland Junior High School had little effect on the new look Shenandoah Lady Raiders’ tennis team, as it earned its first win of the season, 3-2 over the Anderson Indians
“We have had so many rain outs and we have not had a good look at the kids,” Shenandoah coach John Rhodes said. “This was a new lineup for us. Maybe this is the combination we need.”
The seven-person lineup Rhodes sent out to battle the Indians had a fifth place finish at the Richmond Invitational on Saturday.
Shenandoah (1-5) and the Anderson Indians (2-5) were tied at two matches apiece as the No. 2 doubles match headed into the third set. The outcome of the contest for the Raiders hinged on a pair of singles players, Kassy Pierce and McKenna Resler, that Rhodes teamed up for just the second time this season.
The pair took the first three games in a rather easy fashion as Anderson’s No. 2 doubles team, Aspen Christian and Alexa Landaker were only able to muster up a single one during the first game of the set.
Down but not out, the Indians duo bounced back to take the next three out of four games to trail just 4-3 in the quest for six.
“We start off right on it during the first set then (they) started to get going,” Pierce said. “We changed up our strategy in the third set and came out on fire. But, we started to slow down and they figured us out and started to come back.”
Pierce and Resler got back on track to take the final two games to earn a 6-3 third set win.
“The execution was fantastic,” Rhodes said. “They started pressing the net at the same time and I think that is where they captured their points there at the end.”
Pierce said moving from a singles player to a doubles player requires the players to adjust their game and rely on communication to ensure the ball in played by the correct person. She indicated that there is more strategy in doubles play as opposed to the back-and-forth action of singles.
“It was a little rocky off-and-on,” Rhodes said about their communication. “They really seemed to fine tune it in the end.”
Shenandoah took both of the doubles matches as well as the No. 3 singles match.
In that singles contest, Raider sophomore Courtney Byrer gained confidence as she battled to a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Laura Lawrence. She said she knows how important that is to improving her game.
“I noticed last year that it is really important,” Bryer said. “I didn’t have any last year.”
Anderson held a 2-0 lead at the conclusion of the first two matches, No. 1 and No. 2 singles. Ashley Morris (No. 1) cruised to a 6-2, 6-0 victory and Lex Morris (No. 2) 6-0, 6-1.
Despite the lopsided victory, Morris said focus is the key to finishing strong.
“I think of it as the score is tied,” she said. “It helps me remember that if I let down she could come back. It keeps me level headed.”
Pierce said the win is not only a confidence booster for her and her new doubles partner but also for the team. Her coach agreed.
“Very good win (for us),” Rhodes said. “Jim (AHS coach Hostetler) always puts together a good team, especially in doubles.”