The Knob Noster girls tennis team earned the first win of the Rachel Ledbetter era, beating Smith-Cotton 5-4 on Tuesday at the Liberty Park Courts.
“This was not an easy win,” Ledbetter said. “It was a struggle from top to bottom every single court. I’m just happy we came out on top. Their team really played well at the net which is what I hope we can do better at, something I wanted to come out this season and do. We’re still working on that.”
Smith-Cotton’s Rachel Meyer found herself in two tight matches and pulled out wins in both. In No. 3 doubles, she and Mariya Slipych pulled out a 9-7 win over Knob Noster’s Delynn Johnson and Kali Randall. Meyer and Slipych led 6-5, then fell behind 7-6, then stormed back again to take the match.
At No. 5 singles, Meyer trailed Randall 6-3 with Randall serving before breaking serve. She won the next four games to take the lead and eventually closed out the match 9-7.
“I felt like with the ones that won, they gained some confidence in the end and felt like if they believe in themselves, they can do it,” said Smith-Cotton coach Christine Ross. “That’s something we struggle with early on in a match is our confidence and then we get down and have to pull ourselves out of a hole so I was proud of them.”
Another close match came at No. 4 singles as Knob Noster’s Elizabeth Eccleton beat Kali Heavener 8-5.
At No. 1 singles, Knob Noster’s Jessica Yates beat Elizabeth Matz 8-4.
“When they felt confident, they played more aggressive, but they kind of had to build up to that,” Ledbetter said. “Once we got over that hump, Jessie started to play more aggressive. Once she was thinking ‘oh, I can do this,’ the points started racking up. It just took her a while to get there.”
Smith-Cotton picked up a win at No. 2 singles where Allison Burton beat Alexis Allen 8-4.
“I felt like she finally got her confidence where it needed to be and she got some good shots in at the net,” Ross said. “She’s really strong at the net I think if she gets there consistently during a match, she will do really well this season.”
At No. 6 singles, Slipych beat Johnson 8-1.
Knob Noster got wins from Alexis Corona at No. 3 singles, beating Nicole Reedy 8-1, and from No. 1 and No. 2 doubles. Corona and Yates beat Matz and Burton 8-5 and Allen and Eccleton beat Reedy and Heavener 8-5.
“Elizabeth Eccleton was just a rock for our team,” Ledbetter said. “Solid performances in doubles and singles, winning both.”
Both teams jump into conference play on Thursday with Smith-Cotton hosting WCC rival Center and Knob Noster visiting MRVC-East rival Higginsville.
Eric Ingles can be reached at 660-826-1000, ext. 1483 or on Twitter @Eric_Ingles