BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – In frigid temperatures, the Fort Madison girls tennis team sneaked in a meet with Keokuk Saturday morning.
What was originally scheduled to be an Invitational, turned out to just be the two teams due to the frigid temperatures. But the Hounds warmed up on the bottom half of the seedings to get the win.
Senior Katie Larson dropped her match at No. 1, to Jakala Hall 7-9. Larson has struggled against Hall for the past two years.
“Katie had a good match against long-time foe Jakala Hall and almost had her but ended up falling 7-9,” head coach Amy Doherty said.
Japanese transfer student Miho Shirai got her first dose of American high school tennis, falling 4-8 in No. 2 singles to a Chilean transfer student in Keokuk’s Daniela Lozano. Larson and Shirai also teamed up against Hall and Lozano and fell 6-8 for the Hounds’ only losses on the day.
At No. 3, Kearstyn Johnson knocked off the Chiefs’ Maddi Miller 8-1 in short order. Larissa Ferrill dropped freshman Keleigh Hall 9-7, while Lanie Kuntz and Zoe Ramatowski at 5 and 6 both breezed to wins, 8-1, and 8-0 respectively.
Johnson and Ferrill earned a hard-fought 9-7 win in doubles over Miller and Keleigh Hall, while Kuntz and Ramatowsi didn’t give up a game in their 8-0 doubles win over the Chiefs’ Kara Kavanaugh and Susannah Olsen.
“It was freezing, but good for the girls to finally get the chance to see how they will perform against opponents,” Doherty said.
“Keokuk’s numbers 5 and 6 were brand new, so Lanie and Zoe didn’t have much trouble. Larissa faced a little adversity and fell behind after starting with a lead. She at one point was down 6-7 but finally calmed down enough and pulled out the win.”
Doherty said Miho had a good match at number two against Keokuk’s exchange student and with a little more experience in competitive play, she’ll be tough to beat.
She also said the doubles teams are going to be difficult to beat after a bit more court time.
“With a little more quality practice time, our doubles teams will all prove to be very tough to beat. Katie and Miho played well until they got caught in the last couple games trying to be too careful,” Doherty said.