A single way to win

Doubles help in DHS tennis’ first victory

One team dominated singles; the other had an edge in doubles.

Add a pinch of uncertainty and confusion for flavor, and it made for an interesting day Tuesday at the Durango High School tennis courts.

The DHS girls tennis team swept the singles portion of the afternoon with ease and eked out a win at No. 3 doubles to top Montezuma-Cortez 4-3 on Tuesday.

There were no issues in singles play.

Durango’s new No. 1, Erin Neale, shone brightly in a 6-2, 6-0 win over Sadie Threlkeld, while Sarah Harrelson topped Nicole Denby of Cortez 6-0, 6-3 at No. 2 singles. Durango’s Jamie Wanzek made quick work of Sera King at No. 3 singles, rolling 6-0, 6-0.

“I think probably what I liked most was that they were consistent, and they learned pretty quickly how to control their game based on the pace that was coming back from Cortez,” first-year DHS head coach Laura Ehlers said.

Neale, now the full-time No. 1 singles player after Eva-Lou Edwards opted to run track at Bayfield High School this year, said she’s starting to feel more consistency in all her shots, and it showed Tuesday.

She did considerable damage against Threlkeld when the latter was forced to use her second serve, and Neale became more precise with her angles and caused havoc for Cortez’s top player as the match went on.

“The beginning of the season I’m always really inconsistent because there are no indoor courts in Durango, so we can’t play inside. But I’m getting to the point where I think I’m getting all my shots back,” said Neale, daughter of John Baxter and Stephanie Smith. “I was definitely more comfortable (Tuesday) than I was this weekend at (the) Western Slope (Open).”

A bit of confusion on the format caused some drama in No. 3 doubles. The Durango duo of Hannah Lieberman and Eva Eckstein won the first set 6-3 before dropping the second 6-4 to Cortez’s Kearra Boggs and Tori Callahan. The teams then weren’t sure whether to play a third set or use the tiebreaker format more popular in tournament play, and without consulting coaches, played a tiebreaker instead of the preferred third set.

DHS won the tiebreaker 10-8, and later, after some debate between the four players and both head coaches, the result stood based on the fact that all four players agreed to the format.

There was a bit of a hiccup at No. 2 doubles between Durango’s Anna Wright and Rachel Redders and MCHS tandem Jessica Quinonez and Jaci Veach. The Cortez duo won the first set 7-5 before winning the next 8-7 (2), playing the tiebreaker after squaring the match at 7 games instead of the usual six.

“I need to educate my players on all the rules and never assume that they fully understand how many games to play in a set, how many sets to play in a match,” Ehlers said. “Can’t overeducate them enough.”

Durango’s Meredith Nass and Kit Hackett fell 6-3, 7-6 (6) to Mary Wright and Emily Walck of Cortez. That match featured a bit of drama about whether the Cortez players were reaching over the net to play the ball illegally – as the DHS duo claimed at a key point in the final-set tiebreaker – or were playing the ball in a legal manner.

In the end, Wright and Walck found a way to edge the Demons’ duo.

At No. 4 singles, MCHS pair Sam Woyewodzic and Tara Abrams downed Durango’s Jenni Snowberger and Rachel Cooper 6-5, 7-6 (1) to cap the day.

Despite a couple of hiccups, Ehlers said she enjoyed her first home foray as Durango’s head coach.

“It was great to see parents and siblings. I was surprised at the number of people that came out to watch, so that was a good feeling,” Ehlers said.

rowens @durangoherald.com