WORTHINGTON -- On a warm and breezy Monday, the Worthington High School girls tennis team secured its first victory of the 2020 fall season. Winning two singles matches and two in the doubles category, the Trojans downed visiting Redwood Valley 4-3.
Only four days earlier, Redwood Valley edged the Trojans 4-3 in Redwood Falls. But in Worthington, the tables were turned.
First singles player Kessey Aljets was one of the first Trojans to walk off in victory, beating the Cardinals’ Payden Beran 7-5, 6-3. On Thursday, Aljets lost to Beran in three sets, but the Cardinal couldn’t repeat her feat at Worthington’s middle school courts.
It was Aljets’ first win of the year.
“I think it was just taking some time to find my groove again. I think every match I improved,” Aljets said afterward. “Normally I take the first set to kind of feel out the girl I’m playing.”
On Monday, Aljets knew Beran’s game well enough to come out firing.
“I feel like I was more comfortable coming to the net and hitting the angles. I knew where I could get that shot against her,” said the Trojan.
Worthington also got victories at No. 3 singles where Ivy Jenson defeated Kate Foy 6-1, 6-3, at No. 1 doubles where Stephie Bauman and Bailey Newman beat Lexy Nelson and Pari Bailey 6-0, 6-1, and at No. 2 doubles where Calah Riley and Madison Shaffer outplayed Annelise Hammer and Avery Wilson 4-6, 6-1, 6-2.
Bauman and Newman’s win was their second straight over Redwood Valley. They defeated Hammer and Audrey Munshower 6-0, 6-0 last week, and they continued their sharp play on Monday over a different pair.
“We weren’t scared,” said Newman. “If we made a mistake, it was kind of ‘whatever,’ but we went for everything.”
Last year was Newman’s first year on the tennis team. For Bauman, a senior, this is her first year on the team since the seventh grade. A mainstay in the volleyball program, she decided the timing was right because volleyball season has been moved from the fall to the spring.
“It’s been fun. The first week was a little rough. I had to get my skills back -- just remembering how to hold the racket and getting (the ball) over the net,” she said. “Serving is kind of like volleyball. Just the toss above your head, watching it and hitting it over the net.”
Against their Redwood Valley counterparts on Monday, Newman’s quickness won several points. Both players, in fact, showed excellent athleticism in dispatching their opponents.
“I think we’re both really quick to get to the ball. So no matter where it’s at, one of us will get there,” Bauman said.
The Trojans might have won more than four matches if not for gritty performances on the part of their Cardinal rivals. At No. 4 singles, Redwood’s Talia McCorquodale prevailed in a tight one over Worthington’s Brooke Nordseth 7-6, 7-5. At No. 3 doubles, Worthington’s Madison Johnson and Riley Nickel had to forfeit to the Cards’ Mila Jennings and Brooke Zollner due to a Johnson shoulder injury.
The final match on the court was at No. 2 singles where Redwood Valley’s Isabel Hillestad outlasted Worthington’s Marah Darling 5-7, 7-5, 6-2. Darling showed off some powerful serving in the match and she won her seventh game of the first set with an impressive overhead smash. But Hillestad survived the second set barely, then got her second wind in the third set.