St. Bede senior Emily Szczepaniak has been working on her mental game this season with assistant coach Ben Morrow.
“I think I need to work on what goes on in my head a little bit, but I’m proud of myself for pushing through no matter how down I am in the score,” Szczepaniak said. “I’ll act like it’s 0-0 like Ben Morrow tells me to act. I keep playing like it’s a brand new game.”
That mentality paid off for Szczepaniak on Wednesday as she fell behind early in her first set only to rally for a 6-4, 6-1 victory over Streator’s Claire Vogel at No. 1 singles.
“I got down 1-4,” Szczepaniak said. “It made me a little frustrated, but I did my best to pretend it was a fresh match and make sure the next point is the only thing in my head. I came through and won.”
The Bruins’ No. 1 doubles team of Lucy Kleczewski and Audrey Lopez rallied from a first set loss to help St. Bede to a 5-0 victory over the Lady Bulldogs at Hegeler Park in La Salle.
“I think we’re doing really well,” St. Bede coach Mike Lau said. “I was really impressed with our doubles teams. They were being really aggressive. They were like that (Tuesday) night against Pontiac playing the net. They were very, very aggressive, which is good to see.”
Kleczewski and Lopez dropped the first set 6-2 to Streator’s Lora and Haley Berry, but bounced back to win 2-6, 7-6, 10-8.
“We started off pretty well,” Streator assistant John Sandoval said. “At No. 1 singles, (Vogel) was up 4-1 and ended up dropping that set 4-6. (Szczepaniak) got into a rythym and started playing better. Even with her loss, I think that’s the best match I’ve seen (Vogel) play. Our No. 1 doubles team won the first set, dropped the second in a tiebreaker. They were kind of down a little bit and ended up losing the third set tiebreaker. That could have gone either way. It’s mindset. We lost some points we probably should have won and we could have won the match, but it happens.”
St. Bede’s Caroline Moskalewicz beat Lucy Zavada 6-1, 6-0 at No. 2 singles.
“Caroline, if she can start moving the player around, she’s going to do well,” Lau said. “She’s really consistent and has really clean strokes.”
Also winning for the Lady Bruins were Maddie McGunnigal and Morgan Nawa (7-6, 6-1) at No. 2 doubles and Renn Ludford and Leah Smudzinski (6-2, 6-2) at No. 3 doubles.
The Lady Bruins improved to 3-2.
“I think they’re doing really well,” Lau said. “Our biggest struggle is getting all the girls to play. I love seeing them all play at least one varsity match if I can. The 2-3 format doesn’t always allow for that.”
Despite the loss, Sandoval said he’s seen improvement in the one-win Lady Bulldogs.
“We’re playing better,” Sandoval said. “We just have to get a little bit smarter on some of our doubles plays. We hit too many to the net. The net player got set up a lot. We have to work on that — lobbing and cross courts. It’s a daily learning game.”