Cougars come up clutch in third sets to beat Vikings
JANESVILLE--Kristin Whitcomb dug deep and found her groove when she needed it most Thursday.
It was the theme of the day for the Janesville Craig senior and her girls tennis teammates.
Whitcomb rebounded from a second-set loss for a victory at No. 2 singles that clinched a team victory, and the Cougars won all three matches that extended to a third set to top crosstown rival Janesville Parker 5-2 in Big Eight play.
“At first, I thought I was fine. But (as the match went on), I thought, ‘I’ve really got to step up my game,’” Whitcomb said. “That third set, I was on a roll.
“This victory will help us later on in the year with seeds. It’s great.”
Craig swept singles play, winning three of the matches in three sets.
At No. 3, junior Amanda Wilkie overcame a first-set loss, winning the second and third 6-4 and 6-2, respectively. At No. 4, junior Meghan Werner dropped her second set 6-2 but rallied to win the third 6-4.
“It’s all mental in the third set,” Craig coach Bill Peyer said. “You’re tired; they’re tired. It’s going to come down to who can tough it out.
“Kristin had to battle today. She got comfortable at the end of the first set, but the other girl didn’t want to lose. Kristin had to regroup. And it was similar situations all the way across the board.”
In No. 1 singles, talented Craig freshman Maycee Maslonka won in straight sets.
“She earned that spot. We don’t just give that to anybody, they have to earn it,” Peyer said of the young player competing in the No. 1 spot. “She’s going to be really good down the line when she gets that experience.”
The Vikings took two of the three doubles matches.
At No. 1, senior Meghann Hoag competed for the first time this season while recovering from a fractured ankle. She played alongside senior Constance Beyer, and they battled to a close, straight-sets victory.
“For their first match together, that’s a great victory for them,” Parker coach Justin Long said of Hoag, who was slated to be his top returning singles player. “Meghann tried her ankle out, and under the circumstances, that’s the best she could’ve played.
“We’ll keep her in doubles for a while and see how it goes.”
Parker seniors Aislan Hartgraves and Justine Wagner won in straight sets at No. 3 doubles.
Craig seniors Carly McGrath and Abby Hughes took the No. 2 doubles match in straight sets.
Long said Craig’s experience showed. The Cougars returned nine varsity players this year to the Vikings’ four.
“It came down to those third sets,” Long said. “They just made the plays, played aggressive and had a little bit more than we did.”
Craig plays at the Kenosha Tremper invite Saturday. Parker returns to the court Tuesday.