Bulldogs open season with a pair of splits, Ahlborn goes undefeated
TROY — The Bulldogs’ number one singles player proved that he is ready to take on anyone, no matter the weather.
On a cold, snowy day in St. Ignatius last Tuesday, Spencer Ahlborn battled Viking Bridger Mahlum for an 8-6 victory to open the season and playing on a sun-soaked court Saturday in Troy, Ahlborn didn’t drop a set, defeating Trojan Jake Higgins 6-0, 6-0.
The Bulldogs split both matches against Bigfork and Troy.
Mission coach Kimimi Ashley said Ahlborn put in a lot of work during the offseason – in the summer she would often see him hitting a ball against the wall of the local fitness center. All the practice not only improved Ahlborn’s serving and volleying. It also gave him confidence in the game.
“We talk about always playing with the attitude that if you’ve put in all the work that you have every right to win,” Ashley said. “If someone wants to beat you, that’s what they are going to have to do; beat you, not you letting them win.”
There was no way that Ahlborn was going to let Mahlum beat him Tuesday, and he pulled out a tough, hard fought 8-6 victory. Bulldog number two single player Wes Nowlen also showed some mental toughness against Bigfork; winning the tiebreaker 7-4 against Colter Mahlum for an 8-6 victory.
Ashley said it was encouraging for Nowlen, who didn’t play last year, to see him stay so calm in his match and it will be something he can draw on as the season progresses.
Saturday, the close match didn’t go Nowlen’s way and he lost to Creede Garcia 6-4, 7-5. Ashley said it was a match Nowlen could’ve won with just a few adjustments, when he approached the net, trying to end the point with a drop volley.
“Garcia had some good passing shots when Wes tried it, but if he would’ve pushed the issue and forced Garcia to play perfect every time he would’ve had it,” Ashley said. “It was a good match for him to have so early in the season,” she added.
Mission’s number two doubles team of Xavier Streets and Paden Alexander came back from an opening 3-6 loss to Trojans D. Winslow and C. Orr and won the next two sets 7-5, 7-6 (7-4).
“Xavier and Paden hadn’t played together before, so they did well in fighting back and not hanging their heads. You always fight and stay with it until the match is over,” Ashley said.
Bulldog number three singles player Brian Schock also had to come back from an opening set loss Saturday. After dropping the first set to Jeff Rebo 2-6, Schock reversed the score in the next two sets, winning 6-2, 6-2. It was Schock’s first win of the season. He lost to Viking Ryan Gembala 8-3 in the opener.
Ashley said that the Bulldogs are young, but very promising. She said she is still tinkering with the lineup and will have a wide range of players to choose from for her playoff roster.
The Lady Bulldogs picked up their first win of the season, defeating the Lady Trojans 3-2. Sarah Bowers, Mission’s number one singles player beat Jackie Pepiot in straight sets (6-1,6-2). Bowers was coming off an 8-4 loss to Val Jade Bosick. In Troy, Ashley said that Bowers stayed with the point longer, forcing Pepiot to make errors.
Playing her first year of varsity tennis, Mission senior Rachel Jensen picked up her second win in three tries. Jensen outlasted Lady Trojan Sara Helmrick 6-7, 6-4, 10-7.
The Lady Bulldogs have been playing without their number two single players Jane Makepeace. Ashley hopes to have Makepeace back for their Thursday match in Darby.
Mission 3, Bigfork 3
Singles - Spencer Ahlborn , M, def. Bridger Mahlum 8-6; Wes Nowlan, M, def. Colter Mahlum 8-7 (7-4); Evan Jordt, B, def. Pakin LaBaisa-Ard 8-7 (8-2); Ryan Gembala, B, def. Brian Schock 8-3.
Doubles - Kyle Schock/Xavier Streets, M, won by default; Bigfork def. Trail Bundy/Nikko Alexander 8-4
Bigfork 5, Mission 1
Singles - Jade Bosick, B, def. Sarah Bowers 8-4; Carolina, B, def. Becky Hiatt 8-1; Ariel Stallkneck, B, def. Jenny Dillard 8-4; Kianna Wickland, B, def. Rachel Jensen 8-0.
Double- Bigfork def. Alex Guinee/Morgan Andres 8-1; Synne Jensen/Sara Sallen, M, won by default.
Mission 3, Troy 3
Singles - Spencer Ahlborn, M, def. Jake Higgins 6-0, 6-0; Creede Garcia, T, def. Wes Nowlan 6-4, 7-5; Pat Hickman T def. Pakin LaBaisa-Ard 6-3, 2-6, 6-3; Brian Schock, M, def. Jeff Rebo 2-6, 6-2, 6-2.
Doubles - K Hoffman/C Hoffman, T, def. N. Alexander/K.Schock 7-6 (7-5), 6-2; X. Streets/P. Alexander, M, def. D. Winslow/C.Orr 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7-4)
Mission 3, Troy 2
Singles - Sarah Bowers, M, def. Jackie Pepiot 6-1, 6-2; Tara Duzan, T, def. Becky Hiatt 6-2, 6-2; Rachel Jensen, M, def. Sara Helmrick 6-7, 6-4, 10-7. Kelly Kinny, T, def. Alex Guinnee 7-6 (7-5), 5-7, 10-8.
Doubles- Synne Jensen/Aisulu Shabarbekova, M, won by default.