Falcons pluck Eagles in girls tennis

Falcon Natalie Wheeler returns a serve from Eagle opponent Nikki Scheck on Monday.  - Jeff VanDerford
Falcon Natalie Wheeler returns a serve from Eagle opponent Nikki Scheck on Monday.
— image credit: Jeff VanDerford

Before each high school tennis match, the varsity first and second singles and doubles players line up, shake hands and get their assigned courts.

They then get down to work, determined to play hard and overcome their opponents, but it’s a nice touch of civility in a dog-eat-dog world.

On Monday, the Ferndale Eagles were in town, eager to take on arguably the best team in the Northwest League; Ferndale lost 6-1. The Falcon’s overall season record is 7-2.

For the Falcons, singles players Lindsey Newman won 6-0, 6-1; Natalie Wheeler won-7-5, 6-1; Maya Hough lost 3-6, 4-6 and Amanda Brager won in three sets, 2-6, 6-2, 6-2.

In doubles action, South Whidbey’s Victoria Comfort and Nicole Zalewski won 7-5, 6-1; Shannon Craig and Julia Iversen won 6-0, 6-1 and Jenn Gemkow and Katie Holt won 6-3, 6-0.

A good day all around, one would think, but Falcon coach Tom Kramer wants more.

“We started slow in some matches, which is not what I want to see,” he said. “What

I did like was that we finished strong in all the matches.”

Kramer noted that Brager had a nice comeback in her first varsity singles match, while Wheeler regained her focus and played a very good second set after struggling in the first.

“Victoria and Nicole also struggled in their first set,” he noted. “They have not played much recently and it took time to get the rust out. Shannon and Julia continue to have a great season and played some very nice points. Jenn and Katie also were a little rusty, but seemed to get that taken care of by the end.”

Ferndale coach Kathy Denny said she continues to be impressed by Newman.

“She’s such a strong player, but her ball control is amazing, as is her instinctive ability to make the shots she needs,” Denny said.

She added that Molly Beaumont from Bellingham is trouncing everyone in the league but Newman, who won 6-0, 6-1 on April 13.

“Lindsey is the girl to beat in our league,” she added.

Newman used her match with Eagle Micky Mackiewicz to improve her serving game and coming up to the net.

“Close-up work has been a bit of a weakness in the past,” Newman said. “Right now, I’m also working on slices and dinks, which is a ball that barely goes over the net and dies,” she explained.

“The toughest girl I’ve played so far is Beaumont, so I’m also concentrating on topspins and my second serves.”

Wheeler’s match evolved into something of a marathon contest, lasting longer than it should have.

“I was doing well, pretty relaxed and playing my game,” she recalled. “After my third game, I got nervous — something that happens all the time — but I brought it back by being more aggressive and coming up to the net.”

Kramer strongly believes that playing well is more important sometimes than winning.

“Making the shots you should be making and taking advantage of every situation,” he explained.

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