Tennis Tigers double their pleasure

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 28, 2002

An unusually difficult nonconference schedule meant it took a little longer, but the Albert Lea High School girls’ tennis team accomplished a goal that to some may have seemed overly ambitious.

The Tigers doubled their win total from the previous season – for the second year in a row.

“We got those wins doubled,” said second-year head coach Sean Gillam. “Now, if we can double it again next year, and would really be something.”

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It already is.

Two years ago the Tigers had one win. Last year it was two.

On Friday, the Tigers concluded the regular season with a 4-3 triumph over Rochester Century on the Southwest Middle School courts, finishing 4-5 in the Big Nine while improving to 4-7 overall.

“We played real well across the board,” said Gillam. “Everybody picked it up.”

The Tigers picked up a pair of straight-set decisions at singles, with Karen Leonard winning her No. 2 match 6-2, 6-4 and Elizabeth Thompson prevailing 6-1, 6-2 at No. 4. Both finished 4-3 in conference play.

In the other singles matches, Becky Birkhofer lost 6-0, 6-1 at No. 1 while Jasey Porter fell 6-3, 6-3 at No. 3 despite holding a 3-0 lead in the second set.

The No. 1 doubles duo of Ashley Helgerson and Nicole Rafdal ran their Big Nine record to 6-3 with a come-from-behind win, 4-6, 6-1, 6-2.

Amanda Rose and Kristin Wolff won 7-6 (7-4), 6-4 at No. 2 doubles, improving to 4-4 in the conference.

Elizabeth Schreiber and Nicole Merfeld lost their No. 3 doubles match 6-4, 6-2.

With most of the players returning and other Big Nine squads graduating some key individuals, Gillam looks for even more improvement next year. But he’s also hoping for a strong postseason this year.

The Tigers were at Rochester Saturday for the Big Nine tournament and they open Section 1AA tournament play Thursday, probably with their first home postseason meet in many years.