The Sioux Falls Lincoln girls tennis team appears to be unstoppable.
After taking down St. Thomas More, the defending state champion, 9-0 as part of a tripleheader Monday, the Patriots faced off with another of the top teams in the state – Rapid City Stevens.
The Raiders gave Lincoln all it good handle, claiming notable victories in first-flight singles and third-flight doubles, but the Patriots managed to take home a 5-4 win.
It was close the last time these two teams met, with Lincoln coming away with a 6-3 victory.
“It was a little closer than I wanted,” Lincoln coach Tom Kruger laughed. “It’s always tough to not solidify wins (you had previously), but Stevens’ girls played amazing. They came out and they were ready to go. They played great tennis today.”
“Of course we’re not satisfied because you want to win every match you play, but Lincoln’s a great team,” Stevens coach Jason Olson said. “Everything we do is about (the state tournament in) October… But, Lincoln’s the favorite. We’re not quite on their heels yet, but we’re going to keep working at it.”
Lincoln swept through Rapid City Christian dropping just three games en route to a 9-0 team win. The Patriots are now 20-0 on the year, with a match against Roosevelt tomorrow before Saturday’s Metro Tournament.
Here are some notes and quotes from Tuesday’s dual between two of the top teams in the state.
FIRST FLIGHT SHOWDOWN LIVES UP TO BILLING
In a likely preview of a state semifinal match in a couple of weeks, Stevens’ Grace Godde won a hard-fought match against Lincoln’s Sidney Brower 3-6, 5-7.
“That was an awesome match,” Kruger said. “They were playing well and it was a good match. They’re both top-flight players.”
After conceding the first set rather quickly, Brower settled in and started to push back, taking an early 3-0 lead in set two. But as the two continued to battle, engaging in long point after long point, Brower started to falter and momentum swung back in the other direction.
“Grace has a very big serve, so it was difficult trying to get my returns back,” Brower said. “She played really well.”
Brower had Godde frustrated early in the second set, but the tables were turned by the end of the match and it was the Lincoln senior who was letting her frustrations show.
“I think I was getting in my own head,” she admitted. “When you’re making errors, it’s hard not to get upset.”
It was just the second match of the year for Brower, who had beaten Godde earlier this month 6-3, 6-4.
“She didn’t play the best that she knows she can play,” Kruger said of Brower, who was overcome with emotion after the match. “But Grace played well, she did what she needed to to win.”
For Godde, Tuesday’s win was another step in the right direction as she continues to recover from shin splints and a stress fracture that kept her out for the first part of the season.
“She’s getting there,” Olson said. “She did a good job to fight because Sidney’s a great player. That was a huge win for her.”
SO. MUCH. TENNIS.
This was (and still is) a rather brutal stretch for both schools.
Stevens, which played Washington later in the day, has had 10 matches in five days.
For Lincoln, it was a tripleheader Monday, followed by a doubleheader that began at 9 a.m. on Tuesday.
“(That three-day match) was tough on everybody,” Kruger said. “It’s unfortunate that we had to do three in a day like that, but it starts to wear you down. You look at our week this week, we have Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and all day Saturday. Today was all day and yesterday was all day. That’s just a ton of tennis.”
“It’s definitely a lot of tennis,” Brower added. “It’s hard to keep coming out and giving 100 percent, but I did my best.”
• Emily Whitney dropped her first doubles match of the season. She and partner Brooke Lovrien fell to Ingrid Anderson and Jaden Elliott 6-3, 6-3 in third-flight doubles.
• Lincoln’s Meredith Benson on the importance of going undefeated: “I think it’s really cool because it helps our team walk into state with confidence and know what we’re capable of and I think it creates a cool attitude on our team because it’s been such a long time since we’ve been in that situation (team to beat at state).”
• Brower and Goble will probably meet again in the state semifinals in October. Chances are the winner of that match will face O’Gorman’s Danielle Sebata in the championship (more on her and the Knights ahead of the Metro Meet later this week).
Follow Brian Haenchen on Twitter at @Brian_Haenchen .
LHS 5, RC Stevens 4
Grace Goble RCS def Sidney Brower 6-3, 7-5
Meredith Benson LHS def Ally Riddle 6-1, 6-2
Ingrid Anderson RCS def Ava Leonard 6-3, 6-3
Emily Whitney LHS def Halie Vanderwerff 6-2, 6-1
Johana Brower LHS def Peyton Forney 7-5, 6-2
Jaden Elliott RCS def Brooke Lovrien 6-2, 6-3
S Brower/ Benson LHS def Goble/ Fenske 6-4, 6-3
J Brower/ Leonard LHS def Vanderwerff/ Forney 6-1, 5-7, 10-6
Anderson/ Elliott RCS def Whitney/ Lovrien 6-3, 6-3
LHS 9, RC Christian 0
Sidney Brower LHS def Peige Wagner 5-0, 5-0
Meredith Benson LHS def Taylor Maher 5-0, 5-0
Ava Leonard LHS def Julia Anderson 5-1, 5-0
Emily Whitney LHS def Natalie Schlauger 5-0, 5-0
Johana Brower LHS def Veronica Lang 5-0, 5-0
Brooke Lovrien LHS def Hope Beckloff 5-0, 5-1
S Brower/ Benson LHS def Anderson/ Maher 5-0, 5-0
Whitney/ Leonard LHS def Wagner/ Lang 5-0, 5-0
J Brower/ Lovrien LHS def Schlauger/ Beckloff 5-0, 5-0