PELLA — Just 15 days after meeting for a tight dual in the regular season, the Pella and Pella Christian girls tennis teams met again on the courts on Tuesday but this time there was more on the line than just bragging rights. It was the third straight year these two teams have met in the regional finals and for the second straight year was Pella coming away with a thrilling 5-3 win over their crosstown foes.
That regular season meeting featured four match tiebreakers and this one would follow that same script as Pella would take three of those four key tiebreakers to help them gain the win.
In singles play, Pella’s Emily Blom and Pella Christian’s Katy Roose would battle it out in the top spot. Roose won that matchup in the earlier meeting but this time Blom would hold off late charges from Roose to win 6-4, 6-4. In the No. 2 spot, Pella’s Alloree Else took on PC’s Claire Vander Molen. Else started off well with a 6-1 first set before Vander Molen bounced back to take the second set 6-4 and force a tiebreaker. Else trailed 7-2 at one point but won eight of the next 11 points to even things up at 10-10. The tense match would go back and forth before Else finally finished off the tiebreaker at 14-12.
Pella Christian would gain solid wins at the No. 3 and No. 4 spots thanks to Sydney Van Arendonk (6-3, 6-3) and Laurey Johnson (6-1, 6-1) to even it up at 2-2.
The No. 5 singles match also went to a tiebreaker as Pella’s Mallory Westerkamp won a tight first set 7-5 before PC’s Rachel Lanferman took the second set in a tiebreaker 7-6 (3). But it was Westerkamp closing it out in the tiebreaker 10-6. Bryn Higginbotham would then extend the Pella lead to 4-2 after singles after winning her No. 6 match 7-5, 6-3.
The two teams would head to doubles play with the Eagles needing to sweep to advance while Pella just needing to win one. Pella Christian did not make it easy for the Lady Dutch. The No. 1 doubles teams have had several bouts against one another this year and this one once again went to the PC state doubles qualifying duo of Roose/Van Arendonk 6-4, 6-4.
The focus then came on the No. 2 doubles match of Pella’s Blom/Claire Smock vs Pella Christian’s Vander Molen/Lanferman. The Pella duo won the first set 6-3 before the PC doubles team bounced back to win the second set 6-3 and set up a huge tiebreaker. The two sides locked up at 9-9, 10-10 and 11-11 before a Dutch point was followed by a short rally and an overhead finish by Blom to secure the 13-11 match point secure the win and a spot in the team state quarterfinals for Pella.
Pella Christian fell just short in those handful of tiebreakers and were able to set up another tiebreaker in the No. 3 doubles match but the Pella win at No. 2 doubles would stop that match from finishing.
The Eagles finish their season in the regional finals for a second consecutive year and finish the season with a record. Roose/Van Arendonk will finish their seasons up at the state doubles tournament next week.
Meanwhile Pella advances to the state quarterfinals for a second year in a row and will take on Davenport Assumption in Fairfield on Saturday.
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