Friday was doubles day at the 2019 Rapid City Invitational girls tennis tournament. And a St. Thomas More day, too, might be said as the Cavalier ladies combined to capture titles in two of the three double’s flights.
Senior Ainsleigh Scott and junior Vanessa Wittenberg combined to defeat the Rapid City Stevens pair of Erica Wing and Julia Weidmeier, 6-2, 4-6, 10-4 to win Flight One while the Cavalier’s freshmen duo of Bridget Raymond and Ali Scott earned the Flight Two championship with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Tashlynne Badger and Addy Jackson of Brandon Valley.
For Ainsleigh Scott, a day of any tennis was a gift in itself as the senior sat out Thursday’s dual play because of a leg injury suffered on Wednesday that threatened to put her senior season at risk.
“It was really scary that few moments when it happened,” Scott said of an injury that hinted at a possible torn meniscus. “But I had it checked out and it was all good and I’m just happy to be able to be playing.”
And playing well as the Cavalier win over crosstown rival Rapid City Stevens following a tough semifinal win over a good Brandon Valley team made it all the sweeter.
In the championship match, the Cavaliers had to overcome a gritty effort by a Stevens team they had defeated 6-0, 6-1 in an early season match. After cruising to an easy first set win, the Cavalier duo had to withstand a determined Raider comeback before prevailing in the second set tie-breaker.
The semifinal win over the Brandon Valley pair, Tanna Lehfeldt and Annabelle Schultz, 6-4, 4-6, 11-9 — matched the No. 2 and No. 3 ranked doubles team in Class AA. The quality of play amply validated the high ranking with points consistently earned with well-placed, winning shots rather than the opponent’s unforced error.
“We worked hard in the first set and in the second set they played really well, and when it came down to the tie-breaker, I guess you could say, Nessa and I got hungry for the points,” Scott said. “Brandon Valley is a fun team to play since they are very classy.”
The win for the Raymond/Ali Scott in Flight Two doubles continued what has been a banner season for the pair as the duo is undefeated in doubles play — and singles as well (Raymond in Flight Two, and Scott in Flight Three).
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“A final can be like we have to win, we have to win, we’ve gotten so far so don’t lose now,” Raymond said. “But Allie and I don’t have that shakiness. We play it like it’s just any other match. We’ve known each other since were three, maybe, and have played together a lot.”
While both have a variety of strokes both from baseline and net, excellent positioning and court coverage gives evidence of their familiarity on the court.
“I just think Bridget and I work really well together,” Ali Scott added. “Our chemistry on the court is great. When she hits a forehand, I know where she will go and can react. We’ve been playing together so long that when we pick up the racket, we know we will do well.”
Brandon Valley won Flight Three doubles as Michaela Jerke and Sydney Pelletier outlasted Macy Lundstrom and Abby Sherill of Rapid City Stevens 6-3, 7-6 (5).
Though Stevens lost both doubles finals — to No. 1 seeds in both instances— Raider coach Jason Olson valued a glass half-full perspective.
“Both had chances against teams they lost to earlier in the year,” Olson said. “But one thing about this group of girls. I don’t know if anybody thought we would be in the mix, so I’m proud of how they played so far. We’ve been playing well in doubles, but we have to get better. We don’t put away a lot of balls when we have a chance to win points. And we have to get better if we want to keep competing with the tough teams.”
Earlier in the day, the Raiders improved to 9-2 in dual play topping Pierre by and 8-1 count. The win completed a three-match sweep in duals for Stevens on the weekend as the Raiders had defeated Rapid City Central (9-0) and Mitchell (5-4) on Thursday.
The Rapid City Invitational concludes on Saturday with singles play. The action is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. at both Sioux Park (varsity) and Parkview (JV). Championship matches will begin at approximately 1:30 p.m.