Tigers take all 11 from MHS netters

The defensive approach that helped the Bobcats force a tiebreaker in the closest match of the day was the same reason the scores were so one-sided in every other.

Overpowered by an aggressive Cedar Falls squad, the Marshalltown girls’ tennis team was often on the defensive in an 11-0 loss at the MHS courts Friday.

The Tigers (9-2) won every match in straight sets but needed a late comeback in a second-set tiebreaker at No. 4 doubles to close out the meet.

Brenda Livengood and Immaculate Edwin rallied from a 5-2 deficit to win the next three games and eventually force a tiebreak. The Bobcat duo won the first three points of the tiebreaker and led 4-1 before Mary Anton and Emma Redington took four of the next five points and claimed the win at 6-4, 7-6 (8-6).

Livengood and Edwin kept the points going long enough in the second set to allow for several Tiger errors but MHS coach Dennis Paul wanted the duo – and his team as a whole – to dictate the points more. Livengood kept several points alive by chasing down balls along the baseline while Edwin, a freshman, ended several with some strong attacks at the net.

Paul wanted to see more of that.

“They were keeping the ball in play,” Paul said of his No. 4 tandem. “Even though they got back to 5-5, they weren’t playing aggressive tennis. That’s really what hurt us, that’s why they lost that (set). I saw that pretty much all day as we were playing defense.”

Much of that credit went to Cedar Falls, which used precise and powerful shots to keep the Bobcats (1-4) off balance.

“It’s hard doing something with the ball when your opponent is hitting the ball as well as they are,” Paul said. “We were definitely playing defense, we need to get on the offense in order to be competitive. We need a killer instinct and we don’t have it.”

Ellen Podhajsky and Kaelin Lents had the next closest match for Marshalltown at No. 5 doubles where they lost a 6-4, 6-1 decision to Dina Kardovic and Brady Whitehill. Megan Riemenschneider and Chloe Kuehner took five games at the No. 1 spot in a 6-2, 6-3 setback against Becky Hughes and Madison McCann.

No Bobcat won more than three games in singles except for Jenna Jaeckel who fell 6-4, 6-0 against Rachel Paup at No. 6. Livengood was swept in the minimum 12 games at No. 5 though Paul credited the senior in rising up from the JV ranks with a couple challenge match victories in practice Thursday. It was the Bobcats’ first outdoor practice of the week after the rest were spent in the gym due to rainy and wet conditions.

“Brenda was much lower in the ladder earlier this week but moved up a couple spots yesterday in practice,” Paul said. “It’s because she’s playing other than just here at practice. She’s been out hitting with other people and it showed.”

Marshalltown was coming off its first win of the season – an 11-0 rout of Des Moines Hoover on April 22 – but couldn’t carry over the momentum in its third shutout loss of the year. It didn’t help that their next three meets were postponed and most of their practices were forced indoors up until Thursday.

“We were just lucky to get back onto the tennis courts,” Paul said.

“It’s awful hard to play tennis when you’re hitting on a basketball court. We kind of have an area where the girls serve from and a certain area we want them to hit on the wall, but it’s not the same as moving out and hitting over a net.”

The Bobcats will have plenty of chances to establish a rhythm next week with four meets in a five-day span. Marshalltown travels to Fort Dodge Monday, hosts Ames on Tuesday and goes to Mason City on Thursday. The Bobcats come back to host an invite Friday with Johnston, Cedar Falls, Boone and Southeast Polk.

Notebook

Cedar Falls’ only losses of the season came against Cedar Rapids Prairie and Cedar Rapids Xavier. Fort Dodge returns Class 2A 2013 state champion Jaci Cochrane, while Ames placed fourth at the team tournament a year ago.