Written by Mark Griffin
Sunday, 12 October 2008 09:20
Clay seniors Heather Klatt, Kenzie Fork, Katherine Finger and Bev Beavers got their first taste of district tennis competition on Wednesday in Sandusky.
Finger and Beavers were the top-seeded doubles team at the Division I tournament, while Klatt and Fork were the second seed. Both teams, however, lost to more experienced Perrysburg tandems to fall short of qualifying for the state tournament.
Wednesday's play marked the first time the Eagles had two doubles teams competing at the district level, and the first time in school history they had a No. 1 seed.
Beavers said she felt some pressure to do well against Perrysburg's doubles team of freshman Cammy Messenger and sophomore Meghan Roberts. The Yellow Jackets won 6-1, 6-2.
"A lot of other teams are really good," said Beavers, who played No. 1 doubles during the regular season. "We just went out there to kind of have fun. It wasn't a big deal if we won or not. We already made history for Clay, being the first seed. I had already accomplished my goal.
“We played really good. They were just more prepared than we were for that type of thing. I think they had more experience playing together and knew what the other person was going to do. Me and Katherine were at a disadvantage. I had a different partner during the season. They were just a little bit better than us. I'm a little disappointed we didn't do any better, but I was happy we won our sectional and were the first No. 1 seed from Clay."
Eagles coach Walt Ralph, who guided the team to a fourth-place finish in the City League, said Finger and Beavers played as well as they could.
"We just came up against a more talented and more consistent team," he said. "We did a good job of hitting the ball. In the first set we did a nice job of hitting the ball cross court and putting our first plan together, which was to put it firmly cross court and hope our net player would get some chances. She didn't get too many chances.
“Perrysburg's players did a nice job of returning that ball cross court. The Messenger girl is a singles player, and she showed it with some real strong, well polished ground strokes."
Finger and Beavers defeated teammates Klatt and Fork 6-3, 7-5 last Friday at Clay to determine the No. 1 and No. 2 district seeds.
"I thought it was kind of cool," Beavers said. "We knew we were going to get either a first or second seed, so if either one of us lost, it wasn't that big of a deal. Katherine was a great partner. She hurt her ankle during the season, and that hurt her. She didn't get as much practice."
Fork played first singles for the Eagles during the regular season, while Klatt, the team captain, played third singles. The two paired up at sectionals and ended up beating host Sandusky, top-seeded Ashland and Fremont Ross last Thursday and Saturday.At Thursday's district tourney, Klatt and Fork lost to Perrysburg's doubles team of senior Lauren Gillmore and junior Sam Hayes 6-0, 6-1.
"We knew they have a good team and we didn't know what to expect going into it," Klatt said. "We just wanted to do well. We didn't really have a strategy because we didn't know how they played. We just kind of thought about what would happen during the match and see things that happened and try to work out a strategy.
“I wish we would have won our first-round match. We made it to districts and we never thought we would do that. We were singles players and got paired at doubles and never imagined we would be going to districts."
Ralph said the Klatt-Fork match against Perrysburg was a case of emotions.
"Nerves got us pretty good there," he said. "We really had a difficult time on our side of the court executing what we prepared to do. We had a lot of unforced errors and a lot of difficulty getting points started with good, solid service returns."
Still, Klatt said the Eagles had a solid season.
"We had a good season to finish as the top public school in the City League," she said. "That's always one of our goals each year."