WATERLOO – For the third-straight season, the Waverly-Shell Rock girls tennis team finished their season with a berth in the Class 1A state team tennis tournament.
On Tuesday, May 21, the Go-Hawks traveled to the Black Hawk Tennis Club to take on Waterloo Columbus in the opening round of the tournament, but it was the Sailors’ season that would continue, as they won the match, 5-0.
Waverly-Shell Rock head coach Scott Giraud said he was proud of the improvement the Go-Hawks displayed since the first time the two teams met back on April 2, when the Sailors won, 8-1. That defeat marked Waverly-Shell Rock’s only loss during the regular season.
“The fact that we played against Columbus, I thought that we did great,” Giraud said. “Our singles matches were a lot longer than the first time that we played them. Sadie [Hansen] lost a heartbreaker in three sets. But, it was a good day for them. Losing isn’t the greatest feeling in the world, but it is a part of life.”
At the top position, Columbus’ Taylor Hogan defeated Olivia Phillips, 6-2, 6-1.
The No. 2 flight between Sadie Hansen and Columbus’ Bella Fain went to three sets, with Fain winning, 2-6, 6-4, 1-0 (10-5); however, their flight didn’t count in the final score.
In the No. 3 flight, the Sailors’ Elysse Trost defeated Katie Wichman, 6-2, 6-0.
Columbus’ Grace Sullivan earned the victory over Molly Ramker, 6-2, 6-1.
Margaret Harn of Columbus won over Rachel Roose, 6-2, 6-2 at the No. 5 spot.
At No. 6, Bailey Sinnwell defeated Brooke Willis, 6-2, 6-2.
Just by competing in the opening round of the state tournament, the Go-Hawks earned a piece of history for making it to their third-straight tournament.
Giraud knows it wasn’t easy, but he was proud of his team for finishing as one of the top eight teams in Class 1A, especially with the senior leadership from Phillips, Hansen and Wichman.
“Three in a row is not easy to do,” Giraud said. “Sixty-six teams start the tournament, and we finished as one of the top eight. It’s a great accomplishment for these girls, considering we lost our top three last year. Sadie, Katie and Olivia worked their butts off to get us back to where we ended last year, so it was good.”
Out of the varsity lineup, the Go-Hawks lose their top three players to graduation – Phillips, Hansen and Wichman.
Giraud knows that trio has had a great impact on the Waverly-Shell Rock girls tennis program.
“This senior class has been huge for us,” Giraud said. “When they started their freshman season, there was a lot of potential there. They’ve really capitalized on their opportunities. We are going to miss them, but if we can duplicate what they did, we are going to be in good shape. They left us a mold to go off of for what we need to do to be successful.”
But, losing the top three players to graduation is a situation the Go-Hawks found themselves at the beginning of this season, as they had to fill the roles of graduated seniors Madi Overmann, Hannah Folkerts and Ashlyn Hughes.
Much like this year, Giraud knows there is talent up and coming through the girls tennis program and believes the potential is there for another great year in 2020.
“We lose Sadie, Olivia and Katie, but we’ve got Molly, Rachel and Brooke coming back,” Giraud said. “We have a couple of decent junior varsity girls that have bought in to what we are trying to do. We are going to be in good shape. We are going to start next season like how we started this year with losing our top three. We are going to try and pick up some new bodies and fill those roles. There won’t be a lot of experience coming back with having to fill those top three spots, but we will get there.”