BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – Fort Madison’s Molly Knipe captured 4th place at the Class 1A girls regional Singles and Doubles tennis meet on Wednesday in Fairfield.
Knipe opened the tourney with a quick 6-0, 6-2 win over Keokuk senior Jasmine Saunders, but a second round match with Mt. Pleasant’s Savanna Walls, went a little longer.
Knipe needed a 7-3 first set tiebreaker to win 7-6 in the first set against the Panther junior. Walls then took the second set 6-4 from Knipe, before the Bloodhound rebounded for a nice 6-3 win in the third set in the best two of three.
The win moved Knipe into the semis where she ran up against eventual champion Tess Paton of Fairfield. The junior Trojan swept the first set 6-0. Knipe was able to take a game from the champion in the second set, but was moved to the 3rd place match with a 1-6 loss.
Davis County senior Morgan Klaus proved too much for Knipe to secure the alternate spot at state as she won 6-1, 6-1 eliminating Knipe from the tourney. Knipe played at No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles for the Lady Hounds all year. In Iowa players must choose between singles or doubles for post season play.
Klaus also ended senior Rachel Hellman’s season in the first round with a 6-0, 6-1 win.
In doubles action, Nauda Ruston and Lauren Otte were knocked out early by Maharishi’s Quesavedo-Valls sisters, but not before the Lady Hounds made the Pioneers go to seven games in the second set before falling 7-5.
Kayla Kruse and Elizabeth Stuekerjuergen also were ousted in the first round with a 0-6, 0-6 loss to Keokuk’s Emma Evans and Kayleigh Hall.
Fairfield 2019 state singles champion Yana Gaskell teamed up with Penelope Higdon to win the doubles title outright over Assumption’s Mary Rolfstad and Ella Dillulio 6-1, 6-4.
Hall and Evans finished 3rd and will serve as the alternate to the state tournament.