Larson/Shirai take 8th at state doubles meet

Katie Larson, foreground and Miho Shirai, at baseline in earlier action this year, took 8th place at the state tournament in Waterloo on Thursday. PCC File photo by Chuck Vandenberg/PCC


WATERLOO – Fort Madison’s Katie Larson and Miho Shirai captured 8th place at the Iowa High School Girls state doubles tennis tournament at the Byrnes Park Tennis Center Thursday in Waterloo.

Larson, a senior, and Shirai, a sophomore exchange student from Japan, lost in the 7th-place consolation match to Camanche’s Natalie Goble and Marly Bussa 6-3, 6-2.

The FMHS No. 1 doubles duo was bounced to the consolation bracket on Wednesday when they fell to Cedar Rapids Xavier’s Nina Marquardt and Emily Jasper 6-3 in the first set and then took the Xavier girls to a 7-5 second set loss. Marquardt and Jasper finished in fourth place at the meet.

“They had a great day yesterday recovering from a first round loss to a couple really tall girls from CR Xavier. We weren’t really prepared for the net game these girls brought,” head coach Amy Doherty said Thursday afternoon.

The loss sent the Bloodhounds to the consolation bracket where the faced Sioux City Kuemper Catholics’ Samantha Schwarte and Elise Janson at 11:30 Wednesday. Larson and Shirai won that match 2-0 with a 6-3 win in the first set and 7-5 win in the second set to move on in the bracket.

With very little time between the matches, the Hounds took the  court at 1 p.m. against Casie Barba and Ashley Thorn, of Spirit Lake/Okoboji and the first set went to 6-5 before Larson and Shirai took the final 12th game for a 7-5 set win and then captured the next set 6-3 to advance to the consolation semifinals Thursday against Kendel Evans and Josie Condon of Estherville-Lincoln Central.

With a 9:30 match, Larson and Shirai dropped the first set 6-3 and then fell 6-2 to force them into the 7th place bracket against Goble and Bussa. Evans and Condon ended in 6th place in the tournament.

“We recouped in our second match against Kuemper Catholic despite struggles with the heat. Then we played Spirit Lake/Okoboji. They went into this game with a lot of confidence. They identified the weaker player and targeted her. That in combination with Katie’s good serves and Miho’s good volleys made for a really good match,” Doherty said.

“This morning, the wheels fell off the bus. Mentally they were lost about half way through the first set against Estherville and they just could never recover from that. They were not beat by the other team, they were beat by themselves. After a break before the last match, their attitudes improved and they just had more fun in the last match against Camanche. It didn’t turn out how they wanted for their last match together, but coming home with a medal is more than any of us would have expected at the beginning of the season.”



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