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Young Lady Bulldog squad loses to Lady Lions in first match

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EUREKA — The inexperience of the young Lady Bulldogs showed up in a season-opening 5-1 loss to the Lady Lions.

For most of the Lady Bulldogs, the match in Eureka Saturday was the first time they have ever played against another team, and they soon found that a competitve match is a far cry from practice.

With Jane Makepeace, one of only two returning Lady Bulldogs from last year, sitting out with an ankle injury, Mission senior Rachel Jensen had the chance to play her first high school match. Jensen picked up the Lady Bulldogs’ lone win on the day, defeating Amber Brown 6-2, 6-1. Mission coach Kimimi Ashley said she isn’t sure if Jensen knows how good of a year she could have. She said Jensen plays a smart game, tactically placing her shots.

“If she will keep being coachable and lifting the level of the goals that she has set for herself, who knows?” Ashley said.

Lady Bulldog Sarah Bowers, the only Lady Bulldog that played varsity last year at the match, lost to Eureka’s number one singles player, Casey Armstrong 6-3, 6-1. Ashley said the experience level of a senior compared to a sophomore really showed up in the match.

“Sarah (Bowers) didn’t play bad, she just wasn’t used to seeing so many balls come back with so much pace on them and quite a bit of backspin,” Ashley said.

Besides Jensen, Jenny Dillard was the only Lady Bulldog to win a set at the match. After defeating Veda Henion 7-4 in the first-set tiebreaker, Dillard lost the next two sets 6-1.

Ashley said the match was a valuable learning experience for her rookie team.

“They were nervous and excited at the same time to see what it was like to be out on the court and playing against another team. It was a good measuring stick for them to see that being in a match is so different than just doing drills in practice,” Ashley said. “You have to remember to keep your good form that you have been working on and also to be mentally strong.”

The Lady Bulldogs will be working on that form this week. Ashley said that the form that they had been working on at practice went out the window once they started their first match, but that’s to be expected.

“The girls did fine for many of them playing for the first time. Their first match is out of the way, and they got beat pretty handily. Now we can get back to work and get ready for the next matches. It’s the beginning of the year, and the girls have lots of matches to get confidence in themselves and learn that it takes hard work and strong mental faith in yourself to get the upper hand on your opponent,” Ashley said.

After a match with Bigfork Tuesday at home, the Mission boys and girls will travel to Troy Saturday.

Eureka 5, Mission 1

Singles - Casey Armstrong, E, def. Sarah Bowers, 6-3, 6-1; Angela Bailey, E, def. Becky Hiatt, 6-0, 6-1; Veda Henion, E, def. Jenny Dillard, 6-7 (4-7), 6-1, 6-1; Rachel Jensen, M, def. Amber Brown, 6-2, 6-1.

Doubles - Shannon Stein/Shelby Taurman, E, def. Alex Guinee/Synie Larsen, 6-0, 6-1; Marissa Jones-Flaget/Ashley Brown, E, def. Sara Sallen/Katie Hvorste, 6-0, 6-0.

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