April 19, 2013
Doherty No. 1 singles player Raven Simons didn’t have much competition at the Doherty Spartans Invite.
Instead, the senior and her teammates used Friday as a time to fine-tune their game after repetitive snowfall has led to inconsistent playing time for most area teams.
On a somewhat sunny morning into afternoon, Simons won all three of her matches and the Spartans coasted to victories in all but one match in the round-robin, five-team tournament.
Coronado gave Doherty its only blemish and finished second as a team. Palmer finished third, followed by Mitchell and Wasson.
Just below Doherty High School, the best player across the eight courts was Simons. She sandwiched 8-0 wins over Palmer and Wasson around her toughest match of the day against Cougars sophomore Olivia Babeu, whom she ended up beating 8-5 in a back-and-forth, mostly mistake-free match.
Simons said Friday was about gearing up to make a run at qualifying for state – a feat she wasn’t able to do in her first three years as the team’s top player.
“I felt pretty good today and just tried to focus on hitting the ball deeper and keeping it consistent,” Simons said. “My goal is to make state. I really want it. And today, it probably doesn’t help me as much getting ready for it since it is a little slower paced. But I have to learn how to do well in these kind of matches too.”
As a whole, Doherty was unbeatable until Coronado No. 3 singles player Amanda Nickless held on to beat Regan Waneka 8-6 in the closing minutes of the tournament.
While Cougars coach Paul Bernier wasn’t thrilled with the outcome, he was happy to take at least one match.
“Well, we didn’t come out very aggressive and we were a little bit rusty missing last week with all the snow,” he said. “But we will be fine. Just shake off that rust and get out there and start playing more and more.”
The Spartans’ No. 1 doubles team of Shelby Lange and Tess Keller redeemed itself against Coronado after the Cougars beat them 6-3, 6-2 in the season’s opening dual.
Their goal is also qualifying for state.
“This is our first year playing together. So we had to figure out how to play together, what side we were strongest at and all of that,” said Keller after an 8-4 win. “We feel if we play together we can make state.”
“When we play our own game separately we lose,” Lange added.
Doherty players continue their pursuit of qualifying for state with four dual matches in the next nine days.