Lady Cats fall to Eastern
Wade Bell, Sports Writer
The North Harrison girls’ tennis team met with a tough Eastern (Pekin) team last Monday afternoon and fell by a 4-1 decision to the Lady Musketeers. It was an improvement, however, from the first time the two teams got together earlier in the season where Eastern blanked the Lady Cats 5-0.
“We played Eastern in the Scott County tournament a couple of weeks ago and they 5-0’ed us,” said North Harrison coach Bart Bigham. “I thought we were a lot more competitive tonight than we were at that match. I’m happy with the progress. I would have liked to get the win, but I guess it wasn’t in the cards tonight.”
In No. 1 singles, North Harrison’s Isabel Nordhoff had a tough opponent in an experienced Kaleigh Earhart. Earhart was quick on the court and easily handled Nordhoff in straight sets 6-3, 6-4.
“Eastern kind of surprised me the first time we played them,” Bigham said. “They’re solid all around. Isabel has it tough because she plays the other school’s toughest player, and a lot of times the school’s toughest player is somebody who plays tennis all year round. Isabel doesn’t play tennis all year around. She’s taken some lumps but, like I said before, they’ve all grown and she was a lot more competitive tonight than I think she would have been the first week of the season.”
In No. 2 singles, Lady Cats’ junior McKenna Pearson and Madeline Lewellen went the distance. Pearson dominated in the first set, winning 6-2, but in set two Lewellen returned the favor and tied the match with a 6-3 win. Lewellen carried that momentum over into the third set and easily won by a 6-0 decision.
“She won the first and fell in the second and fell in the third,” said Bigham. “I was proud of all of them for scrapping and staying in there.”
Kelsey Delaney was the only Lady Cat to pull out a win, dominating opponent Dylan Whitfield in straight sets 6-2, 6-4. Bigham said one of his team’s problem areas has been first serves.
“We sometimes struggled getting in a high percentage of first serves and then having a second serve that sets us up to win the points,” said the North Harrison coach. “There’s always things we can do to improve.”
Both doubles teams struggled against the Lady Musketeers on the Senior Day match. Seniors Olivia Wise and Emily Bowen had a tough match against Eastern’s Mykenzee Graham and Emily Smith, falling in straight sets 6-3, 6-3. In No. 2 doubles, Lady Cats Hope Whittaker and Kendyl Lasley had a tougher day, falling 6-1, 6-2 to Isabel Cox and Brooke Sease.
“I was proud of the effort,” said Bigham. “The seniors tonight, Olivia and Emily at one doubles and Isabel at one singles, they battled hard. They could have rolled over. I thought they battled hard. They were down 3-0 in the second set, and I talked to them. They battled back and got into it. Isabell came back and made it 4-5 and then fell apart in that last game. I like the battle.”
With one match left on their regular season schedule this week against Borden, the Lady Cats hope for some positive energy before going into sectional.
“We’ve won five conference matches,” Bigham said. “Not knowing what to expect coming into the season, I’m pretty pleased with that. Borden is usually tough, but just to keep improving and give us the best shot possible going into the sectional.”
“Having last year off and no one got to play, I didn’t know what to expect coming into this year,and I kind of thought we were going to be pretty good last year,” he said. “I thought, ‘I don’t know what we’ll have this year.’ But, we’ve come out and improved every match and I feel like we’ve gotten better and better, so I’m proud about that.
“It is a daunting task to go into the Floyd Central sectional, but it does depend on the draw,” he said. “We were able to beat Crawford (County). Salem beat us 3-2. Eastern got us tonight, so it will be tough. I guess we’ll see what happens.”
No. 1 Singles – Kaleigh Earhart (EP) def. Isabell Nordhoff 6-3, 6-4.
No. 2 Singles – Madeline Lewellen (EP) def. McKenna Pearson 2-6, 6-3, 6-0.
No. 3 Singles – Kelsey Delaney (NH) def. Dylan Whitfield 6-2, 6-4.
No. 1 Doubles – Mykenzee Graham and Emily Smith (EP) def. Olivia Wise and Emily Bowen 6-3, 6-3.
No. 2 Doubles – Isabel Cox and Brooke Sease (EP) def. Hope Whittaker and Kendyl Lasley 6-1, 6-2.