NEW ULM - The River Valley girl's tennis team started strong, then fought off a New Ulm comeback Friday evening.
The meet was highlighted by a battle of wills in both the No. 2 and No. 3 singles matches. Both matches went on for a length of nearly three hours and each came down to three sets. In the end, River Valley prevailed 5-2.
Maya Sarkar returned to the Eagles lineup on Wednesday and was put in place as the No. 2 singles player. She started off weak against the Wildcats junior Lauren Laffen, losing 6-0 in her first set. The young sophomore battled back, however, going 6-3 and 6-0 in the next two, scoring long points to secure her victory.
"It was a lot of stamina to go for three sets," Sarkart said after the win. "We both played really well but I guess neither of us wanted to give up. I just stuck my foot down and said that I wasn't going to lose this one. I wasn't going to let her get past me."
Eagles freshman Sara Guymon battled Wildcats junior Alyssa Rubey in a similar fashion, going 2-6 in her first set, then 6-4 and 2-6 in her next two, ultimately being bested by the older player.
In the No. 1 singles match, Wildcat Kalyn Haas dominated her match against New Ulm's Taylor Bolduan, taking both sets in quick 6-1 victories. After suffering losses in her last two meets, Haas hopes to build on the win.
"I was struggling these last two meets, and I really wanted a win," Haas said. "I thought it would help our confidence and our team." She enjoyed the rest of her team's success as well.
"I think we're just going out and doing what we know, and having fun playing together," she said of the win.
The Eagles were forced to forfeit their No. 2 doubles match when senior Miriam Jakel suffered an injury during the first set.
At No. 4 singles, New Ulm's Rose Dobie won her match by going 2-6, 6-2, 6-4. River Valley's Natalie Steves and Erika Ries defeated New Ulm's Jane Arnoldt and Gracelyn Sarkar 3-6, 6-1, 6-4. In the last match of the day, the No. 3 doubles match was won by River Valley's Sara Haugo and Karlie Ries over Meleah Reinhart and Mattea Sievert.
Despite their setbacks, Coach Maudal is pleased with his team.
"I thought they played great tennis today," he said. "We had several three-set matches. It was great, great tennis today."
Wildcats coach Shane Laffen held similar sentiments.
"I thought the team hung in there," Laffen said. "There were a lot of close matches today. A lot of long points and third sets were played in the varsity match today. They hung in there today, they gutted it out. You have to give them credit for hanging in there."