Colville drops first GNL match

Another busy week on tapLosses have been very infrequent for the Colville High girl’s tennis team in recent seasons. But in a busy, and otherwise eminently successful week, the Indians dropped their first Great Northern League match of the season on April 18 in a three-way duel played at East Valley High School.At EV, the Indians fell 4-3 to GNL power Clarkston and edged host East Valley, 4-3. In non-league tennis Friday at Nine Mile Falls against old Northeast A League foe Lakeside, the Indians won all three singles match-ups and dropped an exhibition match-up against Lakeside’s mixed doubles’ team.Colville’s Taylor Little and Cassidy Lindback lost a 5-7, 6-1 (6-10) third set tie-breaker against the LHS mixed doubles duo.Colville’s Rebekah Mauer and McKenzie Mitchell won 6-4, 6-1. In singles against a surprisingly weak LHS team, Colville picked up wins from Darby Fox (6-1, 6-1), Tessa Moore (6-2, 6-0) and Megan Lee (7-5, 7-5).A weaker LHS team“That wasn’t what I am used to seeing out of Lakeside,” CHS head coach Phil Johnson said of an Eagles’ team that Colville has battled for the NEA and 1A district crowns in recent seasons. “They only had eight players there out of 15 on their roster. We just matched up the best we could.”In last week’s close GNL matches at East Valley, competitive tennis was no problem. There were tough, hard-fought matches in spades.The Bantams and Colville split the four singles match-ups and Clarkston beat the Indians in two of the three doubles matches to pull out a hard-fought win. CHS No. 1 Darby Fox dropped a tough 6-7 (3-7), 1-6 match to Clarkston’s Kianna Arthur. CHS senior Tessa Moore, still not back to form after being out due to sickness, still wasn’t 100 percent by any means. But she was able to hold off Rachel Folsom, 6-2, 6-3.Colville No. 3 Taylor Little beat Kristen Carey, 3-6, 6-3, 6-0, but Colville No. 4 Cassidy Lindback dropped a 6-2, 4-6, 1-6 match-up to Clarkston’s Amanda Walker.In doubles, Hannah Greene and Allison Barbour lost to Adriana Arnone/Leslie Ho, 6-2, 4-6, 4-6. Clarkston annexed the match when Rachel Belanger and Amy Nigro eased past Colville’s Mariah O’Brien and Megan Lee, 6-7, (4-7) 4-6.Colville’s No. 3 doubles’ duo of Rebekah Mauer and Alyssa Kienbaum beat Clarkston’s Sarah Eberlie and Kierra Ryan, 6-3, 7-6 (7-4).Tough style of playIn No. 1 singles action, Fox got off to a fast start, but Arthur was able to modify her strategy and began slicing both forehands and backhands all around the court, coach Johnson said.“She was very consistent and Darby had a difficult time adjusting to that style of play,” Johnson said. Fox took Arthur to a tie-breaker in the first set, but couldn’t pick up the win. Arthur used that momentum and an array of what Johnson referred to as “slice and dice shots” to win in two sets.Moore, still not feeling well, stepped up nonetheless against Folsom. “Her opponent was pretty consistent, but Tessa placed the ball well and had her serve going,” Johnson said. “Tessa really knows how to work the four corners of the court. That will be difficult for players to work with at the district tournament.”Little started out playing a defensive game in her win in No. 3 singles, but after losing the first set, Johnson told Little she needed to step it up and play to win.“I mentioned to her after that first set that the most important thing to remember is that every athlete should be able to walk off the court and say they did everything they could. In other words, Taylor needed to play her hardest and try to win and avoid just playing not to lose. Her game completely changed in the second set and she took over the match. With her confidence boosted, she sailed through the third set for the win.”Linback started out solidly against her Clarkston opponent, but couldn’t sustain it.“Cassidy just had one of those sets where her shots just didn’t go where she wanted,” her coach said of the pivotal third set.In doubles, Greene and Barbour competed well, but it wasn’t good enough in a tough battle. “They need to prove themselves in the top spot in order to get a good spot at the seeding meeting,” Johnson pointed out.The tough part is that the match was close; after winning a convincing first set, the CHS duo lost the second set and battled well in the third set. “But we couldn’t place the ball well enough in the far corners of the courts to get the advantage,” Johnson said.O’Brien and Lee also lost a close match. After losing a tie-breaker in the first set and trailing 1-4 in the second, the CHS team turned up the pressure and their offense. But it wasn’t quite good enough.Mauer and Kinebaum were able to place volleys between and around their opponents and win a closely contested match.In the tight win over East Valley, Fox lost to EV No. 1 Callie Hanson, 3-6, 7-5, 2-6 and CHS No. 2 Moore downed Pachee Xiong, 6-2, 6-4.In No. 3 singles, Colville’s McKenzie Mitchell fell to Vanessa Holmes, 0-6, 0-6 before Lee rallied to beat East Valley’s Kasey Streholm, 2-6, 6-3, 6-0.In doubles, Colville No. 1 (Little/Lindback) lost to East Valley’s Kendall Bancroft/Shalyn Stack, 4-6, 4-6. The Indians’ No. 2 duo of Greene/Barbour downed East Valley’s Val Millike/Kendra Chaves, 6-3, 6-4 and O’Brien/Kienbaum eased past EV’s Jaycee Fraser/Haley Prim, 6-1, 6-2.In singles, Fox went up against EV’s unbeaten singles player and turned in a solid outing.Freshman impresses“It is really nice to see that Darby, who is only a freshman, is playing at that level with the top players in the league,” Johnson said of his youngster’s solid play against a highly regarded foe. “She could really cause some problems for other teams at the district tournament.”The District 7 2A Tournament will be held May 10-11 at Washington State University.Moore came up big again against an aggressive opponent.“Xiong made moves to the net repeatedly and was able to hit some solid winners, but Tessa started placing balls in the four corners and kept her opponent from gaining momentum,” Johnson explained. Johnson said that he was concerned about Moore’s stamina, but not to worry.“One thing I have learned about Tessa is that she knows how to give everything she has. She pushed herself to the limit and came back to win the second set. I knew she could have won in the third set, but I was glad she was able to finish in two.”Mitchell filled for Little in No. 3 singles to allow the sophomore to play doubles and ran up against a “ball machine player,” according to Johnson. “Her opponent kept the ball on the court…she never really hit a winner, but she rarely made a mistake.”After losing the first set and falling behind 0-3 in the second, Lee proceded to win the next six games to win the set. Then she won another six to win the third set, 6-0.“Megan showed me for the first time her potential as a singles player,” Johnson said.Johnson said his new doubles duo of Little and Lindback simply haven’t had enough time playing together.Greene and Barbour played well against the EV pair and were the more aggressive team.“They really are a tough team to beat when their volleys are placed well,” Johnson noted.Kienbaum and O’Brien had no trouble picking up a win.THIS WEEKColville will host Pullman on Tuesday (3:30 p.m.) and travel to West Valley on Wednesday (3:30 p.m.). On Friday and Saturday, the CHS varsity will be in the field of the venerable Inland Empire Tournament in Spokane.