Pella pushes past rallying Bobcats

At long last, the Marshalltown girls’ tennis team got its season opener played.

A month and a half after its originally scheduled date, the Bobcats and Pella met up at the MHS tennis courts, and the visiting Little Dutch escaped with a 6-5 victory.

Postponed because of a prolonged winter from April 1, the non-conference dual instead served as Marshalltown’s regular-season finale. On the strength of a 5-1 advantage in singles play, Pella picked up the victory despite a strong showing in doubles by the Bobcats.

“Tiebreakers killed us tonight,” pointed out MHS coach Dennis Paul. “There were three right there in singles play that took us down, and that’s really disappointing.”

A night after turning back Southeast Polk with solid play in third-set tiebreaks, the Bobcats (2-7) could not close out Pella. All three singles tiebreakers determined the outcome of the match, including two third-set defeats.

Coach Paul suggested there was something missing on this night.

“It was a lack of a killer instinct,” he said. “I tried to bring that in when I’d talk to the girls between sets, try to get them excited about it.

“Don’t just put it in play, win the point. Put it away.”

Marshalltown’s No. 1 singles player set the example, as Rachel Faircloth swept through Pella’s Morgan Ernst in straight sets, 6-0, 6-0. It carried over to doubles play as Faircloth and Maggie Kelehan captured a 6-4, 6-2 win over Ernst and Sami Wassenaar.

“Rachel’s game is really sharpening up, her game is really maturing at the right time going into regionals,” Paul said. “So we’ll see what she does there.”

The No. 5 doubles victory for Keyana Vasquez and Jenna Jaeckel – the first varsity appearance for Jaeckel this season – helped spark what was nearly an improbable comeback from a 5-1 singles deficit.

“As it turned out that was a really good win for us,” Paul noted of the No. 5 doubles match.

Needing a doubles sweep, the Bobcats came up just short.

Pella picked up the victory at No. 4 doubles to secure the dual, but Marshalltown captured the last two remaining doubles contests. Ashley Beaty and Kathleen Ferrin forged a 6-2, 6-2 win at No. 3 doubles, and the No. 2 doubles tandem of Rhetta Wenk and Megan Rachuy endured a three-set marathon for the final victory.

Wenk and Rachuy won their first set 6-4, fell 6-4 in the second, and scored the last six points in their third-set tiebreaker to take it 10-8.

“It’s disappointing that it got into that position, but it’s good they picked up the match,” Paul said. “We did really well at doubles tonight, but our singles game needs a lot of improvement.”

The Bobcat junior varsity doubles teams took nine out of 10 bouts to end their spring on a positive note.

Marshalltown heads into the postseason starting Saturday with Class 2A team regionals at Cedar Rapids Washington. The Bobcats will face the host Warriors at 9 a.m. Individual regionals are May 16, also at Washington.