OTTAWA – Though the final score between Ottawa and Streator may have turned up a little one-sided, the notion that the court, diamond, field or pitch is an extension of the classroom was fully illustrated at the King Field tennis courts on Wednesday afternoon.
There was a whole lotta learnin’ goin’ on.
The end result of the non-conference meeting between the neighboring rivals was a 5-0 Ottawa victory over the Lady Bulldogs, but both teams spent a good portion of the competition trying new things and trying to develop the consistency in the basics that will serve them well as the season goes on.
Leading the way for Ottawa (4-0 in duals) in its portion of the learning experience was sophomore Sara Meyer, who used a more aggressive first serve to rally from down 3-0 to defeat Streator senior Alyssa Heilman 10-4 at No. 1 singles.
“This was a good day,” said OHS coach Steve Johnson. “We were able to get out in the heat, get going quickly and take care of business. You just have to take care of business each point and get the job done … Sarah was trying new things, swinging harder, snapping through her serve and though it’s not perfected yet, it was going pretty well today.
“I think we’re on track and starting to see where things need to get done, especially doubles-wise where we have to focus more about being in the right spot.”
Down 3-0, Meyer started being more aggressive with her serve and quickly turned things around, winning five games in a row. After Heilman battled through eight ad point to a service break, the OHS soph won the last four games to take the win.
“I started out kinda slow, but then I got a little more loose, a little more into it once we had a few games in,” said Meyer. “This was one of my better matches because I finally got my serve down for the most part, at least better than it has been. I feel OK about how I played, but I like my serve today.”
Said Heilman, “Early I was hitting stronger and moving her up and back, but as the match went on, I was getting a little tired in the heat and I wasn’t able to make those hits as accurately as I had been … This is the best match I’ve played so far, I made a lot more smart moves than I had in past matches.”
At No. 2 singles, Ottawa’s Mary Riva was a 10-0 winner over SHS’ Felicity Kruger.
The Lady Pirates No. 1 doubles team of Marta Johnson and Rebekah Felty toppled Streator’s Haley Berry and Laura Berry by a 10-2 score, while the hosts’ No. 2 tandem of Emily Walker and Molly Charbonneau were winners by that same score over the Lady ‘Dogs Aleaha Evans and Lucy Zavada.
Finally, at No. 3 doubles, Ottawa’s Bridget Stevenson and Avery Landers blanked the visitors’ Sam Reeland and Caitlyn Coors, 10-0.
“The scores don’t reflect what we were looking for, the goals that we set before tonight’s match,” said Streator coach Kaye Tallier. “Sometimes when you play a team like Ottawa, you set individual goals for what you would like to see happen and it’s not always about winning games, but some of our girls took some games and that will certainly build their confidence … Some of the girls are moving the ball around better and even though Ottawa can run those down, that’s a really good improvement. Some are making better shot selections. We had fewer double faults than we did the other night at La Salle-Peru. We had the girls at the net fewer times than they were that night, too, so we met a lot of the goals we set for ourselves coming in.
“Some people might question why we would schedule a non-conference against Ottawa or ask what we get out of that … It give our girls another chance to play up to that level of competition and gain more from competing with a good team.”