Double sweep

Story by Kris Kotlarik

The women’s tennis team defended its home courts by shutting out UW-Stout and Macalester (Minn.) last Thursday and Saturday.

Head coach Tom Gillman said the wins boosted the confidence of the team, especially the freshmen, after a tough weekend in Decorah, Iowa.

“It’s very nerve-racking, the first couple weekends of college tennis,” Gillman said. “They get on the winning track, they calm down, they gain a little faith, so that’s huge for our team.”

Freshman Maddie Johnson was victorious in all four of her matches in the two meets, playing No. 4 singles and No. 2 doubles. Johnson said the team was working on a specific “keyword” for Saturday’s match against Macalester, which helped her win her matches.

“For me, it was ‘movement’ today,” Johnson said. “Just being able to move my feet and keep the flow going in my direction. I think we focused on a lot of good things we needed to work on, and overall, it went really well.”

Another freshman, Madison Rossebo, played No. 3 doubles against Macalester with sophomore Stephanie Wolf and won 8-1. Rossebo and Wolf focused on attacking their opponents’ weaknesses during the match.

“One girl had a weak backhand, so we tried to hit to her backhand,” Rossebo said. “One girl didn’t have strong volleys, so we picked on her at the net. We just knew to keep the ball in and let them make the mistake.”

Many of the matches in both meets were victories for the Blugolds, but a couple of singles matches against Macalester came down to the last game of the second set.

In one of those matches, junior Taylor Heltne won 6-1, 7-5 while playing No. 1 singles. Heltne was trailing 5-2 in the second set before winning the final five games of the match. Heltne said she got ahead of herself in the second set, which contributed to her falling behind.

“I got back to what I needed to do, game plan-wise and strategy-wise,” Heltne said. “Once I did that, I started to get back the momentum, and (Macalester’s Carmen Whitehead) started to think twice about what she was doing, and then I took advantage of that.”

Heltne said her strategy consisted of using her forehand shot to get in position to attack the net and win the point.

“When I got to the net, I won most of the percentage of my points,” Heltne said. “Getting to the net was my strategy.”

The other close match was similar to Heltne’s. Junior Gretchen Bachmeier also won her match 6-1, 7-5. Gillman gave tactical advice to both players during the match and focused on maintaining the players’ composures.

“When you win an easy first set, it’s easy to think it’s just going to stay that way,” Gillman said. “When the score changes, you can overreact mentally, so we had to make sure we were calm and just continuing to play on. I think the girls did a good job of calming down and doing that.”

The Blugolds then took on UW-River Falls at home on Wednesday and won the match 9-0.

This weekend, the Blugolds travel to St. Peter, Minnesota to participate in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Midwest Regionals (ITAs). Gillman said the ITAs will give the team a chance to focus on their own skills in this individual bracket-style tournament.

“We expect tough competition,” Gillman said. “But there’s no way we can check and see what our progress is unless we take on the challenge, so that’s what we’re going to try to do.”