ALHS netters top West

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 30, 2002

Coach Sean Gillam has been saying all season the key to success for the Albert Lea High School girls’ tennis team is continued improvement.

The Tigers proved his point Thursday.

The ALHS girls put together their best meet of the season and picked up their first win, defeating Mankato West 4-3 on the Southwest Middle School courts.

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&uot;Obviously, when you win, you win together, and we were improved at all the spots,&uot; said Gillam, whose squad faced two very tough nonconference opponents to start the season. &uot;Continued improvement is going to be big. If we do, obviously we’re in good shape.&uot;

The Tigers swept the doubles, taking two of the matches in straight sets.

The close was No. 1, where juniors Ashley Helgerson and Nicole Rafdal outlasted a pair of seniors 3-6, 6-3, 7-6, winning the third-set tiebreaker 7-2.

&uot;They weren’t on again, but they pulled out the win,&uot; said Gillam. &uot;It’s nice to be able to win when you’re not on.&uot;

Amanda Rose and Kristin Wolff were on, according to Gillam, cruising to a 6-2, 6-3 triumph at No. 2 doubles.

&uot;They really picked it up,&uot; said Gillam. &uot;They have played some tough competition. A lot of the No. 2s are as good as the No. 1s.&uot;

Nicole Merfeld and Elizabeth Schreiber dominated at No. 3 doubles, winning 6-3, 6-2.

&uot;It wasn’t that close,&uot; said Gillam.

Karen Leonard, whom Gillam called &uot;Miss Consistency,&uot; won 6-0, 6-2 at No. 2 singles.

Eighth-grader Elizabeth Thompson was frustratingly close at No. 4 singles. She led 4-1 in the first set before dropping it 7-5 and had a 6-5 lead in the second before eventually losing an 8-6 tiebreaker.

&uot;She played real well,&uot; said Gillam. &uot;She just couldn’t close it out. That will come with experience.&uot;

Becky Birkhofer took a 3-0 lead in the first set at No. 1 singles but wound up falling 6-3, 6-1.

Jasey Porter also had a strong first set while dropping a 6-4, 6-1 decision at No. 3 singles.

The Tigers, 1-3 overall and 1-1 in the Big Nine, return to action Thursday, Sept. 5 at Rochester John Marshall.