NEW ULM - When thunderstorms halted the River Valley girls' tennis team's match-up against Marshall on Thursday, Wildcats senior Becky Roiger was frustratingly close to earning victory at No. 2 singles, needing to win just two more games to seal the win.
Playing at No. 2 singles against Jennifer Martins during River Valley's match-up against New Ulm on Friday, Roiger finally got the chance to experience a victory, holding off Martins by a 6-1, 6-2 score.
Roiger's success was matched by her teammates, with the Wildcats earning a 7-0 sweep without dropping a single set.
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
River Valley’s Becky Roiger returns a shot during number two singles play Friday at New Ulm High School.
Although the score shows that Roiger won her match handily, she admitted that it was her hardest fought match so far this season.
"It was competition this time," Roiger said. "The last couple of matches I've played, they've been good, but I haven't really been able to go my full force."
Roiger particularly showed her full force in her service game, seemingly effortlessly sending lasers over the net that resulted in a number of aces during the match.
"Her serves were amazing, they were fast and hard to get to if I was over too far," Martins said. "She was a really good player."
Roiger held serve to win the first game of the match, but she had to fight through a long deuce in the second game before taking a 2-0 advantage.
Roiger increased her lead to 4-0 before Martins broke serve in the fifth game, earning the deciding point with a lob to the back-right corner that Roiger had no chance of chasing down.
"That was my best shot, I was happy about that," Martins said. "I was dancing on the inside."
However, Roiger dropped only a single point during the rest of the set, sealing victory in the set with a service ace.
Martins held serve to take a 1-0 advantage in the second set, but Roiger evened things up with a strong service game. In a critical third game, Roiger survived four deuce points to take a 2-1 advantage.
The fifth game also extended to four deuce points, with Roiger again coming out on top to take a 4-1 advantage. Martins fought back with a service break to make the score 4-2, but Roiger swept the next two games to seal the match.
It was the second straight match-up played in hot conditions for New Ulm.
"It was very hot, so the energy was just sucked out of me right away," Martins said. "But I just tried to keep pushing through. I think I played OK for how warm it is, how sunny it is."
Martins - making the transition to No. 2 singles this year after playing No. 2 doubles most of last year - mentioned that she would love another match against Roiger, but since both are seniors a rematch is unlikely to happen.
Roiger moved to 2-0 on the year after winning her match during a 6-1 victory for River Valley on Tuesday at Worthington.
"I'm ready to see what the season's going to bring me," Roiger said. "I'm excited, even though it's my last year."
At No. 1 singles, RV's Kallie Smith defeated Laura Albrecht by a 6-4, 6-1 score. Lauren Laffen earned a 6-1, 6-0 victory for the Wildcats at No. 3 singles against Maya Sarkar and Natalie Stevens won 6-3, 6-2 at No. 4 singles against Taylor Bolduan.
In doubles action, the River Valley duo of Emily Johnson and Kalyn Haas were pushed to the limit in their first set against Marissa Johnson and Hannah Jakel, but rebounded for a 7-5, 6-1 victory. Marlayna Evers and Erika Ries won 6-3, 6-2 against Emma Vranich and Gracelyn Sarkar at No. 2 and Alex Chaney and Alyssa Rubey won 6-4, 6-3 against Sicily Trullinger and Miriam Jakel at No. 3.
River Valley head coach Bradd Goede is pleased with what he's seen from his girls so far this season. Although seven of the 10 varsity players returned from last year, the Wildcats still have four freshmen and a sophomore on varsity.
"It's been a nice start to the season," Goede said. "If we don't get interrupted yesterday, the girls would start 3-0, which would have been nice for those younger kids to gain some confidence. They've never been in this spot, so it's nice to ease into the season a little. The experience has showed off when they've needed it, and the younger kids have really come through maybe even earlier than I thought they might."
The trend so far for the Eagles has been that the players are starting out their matches strong, but dropping off later on.
"Right now they're doing well at the beginning, but by the end they're getting exhausted and not being able to finish off, so hopefully as the season goes on and they get more experience they can finish it and get some wins in," New Ulm head coach Kevin Maudal said.
The Wildcats' hot start will be put to the test when they play on the road against Maple River on Tuesday and host perennial power St. James in their home opener on Thursday.
New Ulm will play a triangular on Monday in Albert Lea, with Marshall also making the trip.