The trials and travails of a young, inexperienced team were on full display in back-to-back efforts for the West Holmes girls tennis team in the Lady Knights’ two most recent efforts.
West Holmes hosted its four-team Knights Invitational on Saturday, Aug. 19 when Triway, Claymont and Crestwood paid a visit.
As expected, Triway was the cream of the crop, but the Lady Knights looked very good at times. Triway won all three singles spots, securing the championship, but unfortunately a wicked storm came calling before doubles play could be finished, leaving the tournament in flux.
The rain put a halt to a pair of good doubles finals matches between Triway and West Holmes.
At first singles, Triway’s Allison Kesner swept past West Holmes’s Hailey Wade 8-0 in the finals. Titan Emily Allison rolled to a title at second singles with an 8-1 victory over Claymont’s Rylee O’Donahue, and Triway got a clean sweep with a third singles win when Karlee Immel beat Marissa Anderegg 8-1 in the championship round.
At first doubles, West Holmes’s duo of Maggie Taylor and Taylor Miller had fashioned a 6-4 lead over Triway’s Audrey Hochstetler and Laurel Sidle when rain put a halt to that finals match. Meanwhile at second doubles, Triway’s Sierra Kiner and Kelley Starkey were locked up in a 2-2 tie in the finals with West Holmes’s Olivia Young and Karlie Halloran.
By virtue of its three single titles, Triway has already locked up the championship, but with two teams in the finals yet, West Holmes will finish either tied for second or third, depending on what happens when Triway and West Holmes play later this season.
“Andy (Redd) said the rain was going to come a little after two-o-clock, and it did,” West Holmes coach Jason Otto said. “Since we play Triway later this year, we decided we would just finish those doubles finals matches then.”
As for his young team’s effort and a good chance at taking second place outright, Otto said it was a nice day for a team seeking an identity.
“We played really well at times, and our doubles teams really looked good,” Otto said. “Overall it was a pretty good day for us.”
It was a good day for Triway too.
“We’ve got a lot of letter winners back this year, and we are pretty strong top to bottom,” Redd said. “We came into this wanting to win it, but more importantly we just want to get experience and get better. We have our tournament coming up, which is an eight-team tournament, and Ashland’s tournament, which is also an eight-team tournament, so we are going to face some really good competition here early, so we want to get in as much play as we can, and it is all in preparation for sectionals and districts.”
While it was plenty of good news for West Holmes on Saturday, two days later the Mustangs of Claymont made a return trip to West Holmes High School and dealt the Lady Knights a 4-1 loss in which West Holmes didn’t look good.
West Holmes got its lone win at second doubles, where Halloran and Felicia Woods earned a 6-2, 6-4 win over Allison Luyster and Sierra Smolak.
It was all Claymont otherwise. Katherine Host stumped Wade 6-1, 6-2 at first singles, and O’Donahue won at second singles over Monica Nally in a battle. Nally won the opener 6-0 and then saw a 5-2 lead disappear as she went for the win, only to see O’Donahue rally to win the second set 7-6 (7-3). The tiebreaker went to O’Donahue 10-8 in the evening’s most exciting match.
Anderegg toppled Young 6-3, 6-1. At first doubles an evenly paired matchup saw Claymont’s Lydia Cochran and Layla Rentsch dig deep to secure a 6-2, 6-4 win over Taylor and Miller.
“Tonight is a completely different story for us all around,” Otto said. “We have so much youth and inexperience. We’ll see these ups and downs. The biggest thing is we have to try to just stay positive and stay focused on getting better and learning the fundamentals of the game. We have a lot to learn, but there is some talent here to work with.”