While the Marshall High School tennis team still needs to improve in many areas, they found a bright spot early on in the season during a 6-1 loss to River Valley on Thursday.
Junior Stef Janke, who picked up a racket for the first time in two years on Monday, won at the No.1 singles spot for Marshall. Janke, an exchange student at MHS, arrived in the United State about a week ago from Germany.
Janke rallied to beat Kayln Haas 3-6, 7-6 (7-5), (7-5).
While she wasn't happy with all of her swings, she credited her mental toughness as the main factor in the win.
"I just knew I had to keep playing," Janke said. "I knew I couldn't give up."
Marshall Tennis coach Tony Alberts was also surprised with some of her skill sets.
"We're happy to have her on the team," Alberts said. "She has an excellent forehand swing. Her forehand has a ton of spin on it and she's not timid. She'll go for the win even when she's down, she won't just dink the ball around. She's very confident, which is fun to see."
Having Janke at the No.1 spot will help the Marshall team organize the rest of the team.
Alberts knows that his No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 singles players are all very close in talent, so Janke helped make the No.1 spot clear for the time being on Thursday.
Crista Schultze filled in at the No. 2 singles spot and fell 3-6, 3-6 to Lauren Laffen while Meghann Naughton fell 7-6 (7-4), 6-3 to Alyssa Rubey.
Kacie Goblirsch rounded out the singles competition with a 3-6, 6-4 (2-7) victory over Julia Marshall.
Marshall's Cheyenne Demuth and Tori St. Aubin fell 6-1, 6-2 to Erika Ries and Natalie Stevens in the No. 1 doubles match.
Linnea Bader and Amy Harrison played in the Tigers' No. 2 doubles spot and fell 6-3, 6-3 to Carissa Evans and Ashley Johnson.
Katherine Roseland and Katie Ewing made up the No.3 doubles team for Marshall and fell 6-1, 6-1 to Sarah Haugo and Karlie Ries.
Marshall will take on Yellow Medicine East in its next matchup.
Takeaways: Marshall's biggest struggle in the match against River Valley seemed to come on the doubles courts.
The combined scores of the doubles matches finished at 18-10 with only the senior-sophomore combination of Bader and Harrison taking more than two games in each set.
Things were slightly more competitive on the singles side where a Tiger took at least three games in every set played, not including tiebreakers.
Janke turned out to be an early-season surprise for Albers. She should be able to hang on to the number one singles spot as she continues to improve.
To go out and win a match after arriving in the country less than a week prior and not having played for two seasons points to her willpower.
Schultze, Naughton and Marshall could prove to be a very interesting battle for the No.2,3 and 4 spots on the singles side.