WORTHINGTON -- Grittiness in the heart of a competitor is not always measured in scores.
Though the Pipestone Area Arrows prevailed over the Worthington Trojans 6-1 on the local tennis courts Thursday in a 3-hour, 16-minute marathon, the final two matches revealed a kind of tenacity that foresees good things to come for the WHS girls program.
At No. 2 singles, the Arrows’ Mataya Douty and the Trojans’ Ivy Jenson continued a tooth-and-nail struggle until after the sun went down. Douty finally won it on a 7-6 (3) tiebreaker after losing the first set 4-6 and winning the second 6-2. Meanwhile, the very last match was still being played, and PA’s Olivia Lapthorn finally outlasted Worthington’s Marah Darling in another nail-biter, 2-6, 7-5, 7-5, at No. 3 singles.
Douty is a senior, Jenson is a freshman. Lapthorn is a junior, Darling is a sophomore. Both Trojans fought valiantly in matches that could have easily gone the other way.
If the No. 2 and No. 3 singles results had indeed been reversed, and if the Trojans had won at No. 3 doubles where PA’s Emma Czech and Jenna Boecke had to go three to beat Neveah Schreiber and Cindy Hernandez 6-2, 3-6, 6-2, the entire night would have been a different story.
Alas, the Arrows are a veteran squad, and their leader -- senior Paige Ahrendt -- got her team started in the right direction with a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Worthington sophomore Kessey Aljets at No. 1 singles. Ahrendt, who has already participated in a prep state doubles competition, is a hard-hitting, smart competitor who is rarely taken by surprise. And yet, after beating Aljets 6-1 in the first set, she trailed in the second 2-1.
Aljets played it smart, herself, hitting to Ahrendt’s weaker backhand and pulling the Arrow -- who possesses a hard and powerful forehand -- to the net.
“She definitely played to some of my weaknesses,” said Ahrendt, a serious player who has participated in summer tennis leagues for years (sometimes winning matches against males) and taken lessons for years, as well.
“I usually hit a few more forehand winners than I did today. I was a little more patient today. She’s (Aljets) really a good player. She’s only a sophomore, and she has a great future,” Ahrendt said.
The Trojans’ only victory on Thursday came at fourth singles where senior Chloe Bents defeated Pipestone Area senior Hannah Minet 6-2, 6-0.
The Arrows won all three doubles matches. At first doubles, Skylar Mendro and MacKenzie Manderscheid got the best of Worthingtons’ Maggie Putnam and Cynthia Souksavath 6-4, 6-3. And at No. 2 doubles, Taryn Woelber and Emma Stahl defeated Trojans Kya Nickel and Jasmine Riley 6-4, 6-2.