Sports / The Prairie Fire / September 25, 2008

Knox falls despite energized home field

It was a trying weekend for the Knox women’s tennis team as they lost both matches held last Saturday. The games were held at Merdian Courts against Grinnell College in the morning and Lake Forest College in the afternoon. Losses in Davenport, Iowa against Upper Iowa University and St. Ambrose on Sunday did nothing to stop the bleeding of Saturday’s pair of 0-9 shutouts, losing 0-9 and 3-6, respectively. The hard losses were decided in most cases by mere points. The team takes this as a sign of growth and improvement.

“The bottom end of our lineup is doing real well,” said first year coach Amanda Barkema. “We have a lot of potential going into this year.”

Saturday’s home matches showcased a display of Prairie Fire spirit as two tennis devotees were forced to leave because they were causing the other teams to falter so badly. Apparently, their enthusiasm was considered an unfair advantage. Once these rabid fans left, the other teams took advantage of the restored silence en route to a victory over the Lady Fire.

Highlights of the day included senior Alexa Hagen and freshman Rachel Clark against Grinnell, both of whom put up fights in the number five and six singles, battling valiantly before eventually falling in defeat. Later in the day against Lake Forest, a battle ensued over the number three doubles, represented by freshman Katie Beading and sophomore Prinya Sharma, who took the Lake Forest team to tiebreakers before eventually falling 9-8 (7-4). Clark again showed up in her duel with Lake Forest’s Michelle Stroner, but was defeated 6-3, 6-4. In all, a poor showing for the standings but the ladies showed heart and tenacity, and made sure there were no thoughts of coming to Knox for an easy win.

“We lost 0-9 in both matches, but the individual scores are much better,” noted Barkema. “We were tired against Grinnell. We didn’t come as prepared as we could have.”

The next day the women traveled to Davenport, Iowa, to face Upper Iowa University in the morning, and St. Ambrose University in the afternoon. Upper Iowa proved to be as tough a nut to crack as the day before, as Knox fell 0-9. Katie Beading lost a close one 6-1, 7-5, Hagen went down 6-2, 6-4, and the doubles team of Clark and Beading held ground but eventually fell 8-4.

The afternoon proved to be a somewhat different story, as the Fire was able to knock off the rust from the morning and mount a decent fight against St. Ambrose. It started off much the same as the previous three matches but Knox was able to take advantage and scored in the first game of the contest, as freshman Megan Funk lost, but went down gunning, losing 6-3,6-1. Hagen hammered her opponent in her number four singles match, cruising to an easy 6-1, 6-1 win, with Clark following her, defeating her adversary 6-1, 6-1, as well. The doubles sets went well, as numbers one and two lost but put up a valiant effort, 8-3, 8-4. Beading and Clark finished the day out on a high note as they crushed their foe 8-3. Despite the overall disappointing look on the standings, the Fire left Iowa on a high note, ready to battle again and maybe take home a win.

“There’s so much to learn when you lose,” said an upbeat Barkema. “You can see your mistakes, and correct them. You look at a win differently. Our goal now is to take our game to the next level, and get to the conference championships in October.”

With a driven young coach and a team chomping at the bit to get things going, the sky is the limit for this young team as they look forward to their Monmouth rivalry on Wednesday, followed by a trip to Mt. Mary College and Carroll College on Saturday.

Merritt Rohlfing

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