Albert Lea finishes eighth at the conference meet

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 2, 2006

An undermanned Albert Lea tennis team finished eighth at the Big Nine Conference Meet in Rochester Saturday.

The Tigers were forced to bump up their singles players one spot each with Dezeray Jacobs, the team&8217;s usual No. 1, unable to play due to family commitments.

Amanda Leonard took Jacobs&8217; spot and lost her first match 1-6, 0-6 but rebounded to win in the consolation round 4-6, 6-2, 6-3. The victory put Leonard into the consolation championship match where she was stopped just short 4-6, 2-6.

Kelli Hanson moved up to No. 2 in the lineup and lost a pair of matches dropping her opener 2-6, 1-6 and her final match 6-7 (5-7), 5-7. Cori Madson struggled recently coming off an injury and lost both of her match by matching scores of 0-6, 1-6.

Sarah Wenum would round out the varsity at No. 4 beginning with a 0-6, 1-6 loss followed by a hard fought win in two sets 7-6 (7-4), 6-4. She too advanced to the consolation championship match where she came up short 4-6, 6-0.

Albert Lea head coach Sean Gillam was pleased with his team&8217;s performance all things considered.

&8220;Three of our four singles players had to go up against the No. 1 seeds which is tough,&8221; he said.

&8220;But the girls didn&8217;t complain they went out there and competed and earned points. It just shows how important it is they we have our whole team and that we work together. It wasn&8217;t our best day but I am proud of the girls.&8221;

In doubles, Cara Thorn and Liz Thompson opened their day with a 6-3, 6-4 win but lost to a team they had beaten earlier in the season in the next round 3-6, 3-6.

Niki and Hali Hendrickson won a tight opening match at No. 2 doubles for the Tigers 7-6 (7-4), 7-5. However, their run would end when they came up short in a tough three-setter against a team from Austin 3-6, 6-4, 2-6.

&8220;It was the second time this season they lost to them in three sets but I have to give them credit because they were down 2-4 in the second set and battled back to win it,&8221; Gillam said.

Danielle Merfeld and Alarie Maras rounded out the Tigers&8217; doubles teams dropping two matches 2-6, 2-6 and 2-6, 1-6.

The Tigers begin sectional play Tuesday at a site yet to be determined.