Prep tennis: Eskymos beat the heat, rout Braves, Mustangs

ESCANABA – It was a good day for Johanna Snowden and the Escanaba Eskymos tennis team. The Eskymos persevered through a doubleheader in temperatures that hovered around 90 degrees, improving to 4-0 in dual meets this season, and Snowden picked up her first two victories at No. 1 singles.

Escanaba routed Gladstone 7-1 after defeating Munising 7-1 earlier in the day.

“Today was a pleasant surprise,” Esky coach Dennis Lueneberg said after his team defeated Gladstone. “Gladstone is in kind of the same boat we are. A lot of their kids are learning how to play the game at singles. I didn’t really expect our girls to play this well. They looked a little sluggish after our first match with Munising, so I was a little concerned. I sat down and asked them to give me two more hours and then they got the rest of the day to relax. They came through and I’m really pleased.”

Snowden had a dominating day at No. 1 singles, defeating her Munising counterpart, Sadie Cornish 6-0, 6-1 and coasting to a 6-0, 6-0 victory over Gladstone’s Gabby Movalson.

“It went well. I felt better than I usually do and I just kept it going and did what I needed to do,” Snowden said. Of making the adjustment to playing at No.1, she said, “I like it. It’s a challenge but it’s worth it. It helped that I played at No. 2 last year.

“It’s a lot of mental preparation but I just try to shed everything off and worry about what I’m doing right now, because there will be stuff going on outside of my game and I had an issue with that before, so I kind of just shut it down and get into the game.”

Movalson was a familiar opponent for Snowden, having played her last year, the big victory raised the eyebrows of her coach.

“Johanna was impressive,” said Lueneberg. “I saw the big smile on her face. That’s a nice win for her. Gabby is a very nice player and she’s been around. Johanna has always battled, even at No. 2 last year. She was a little overwhelmed and I told her she’s going to have a breakthrough match if she keeps playing hard. Today, it was nice to see that.”

The Eskymos swept doubles, winning all eight matches during the day. All 16 matches were completed in two sets. Among the more dominating flights were Olivia LaForest and Paige Lancour at No. 3 doubles. They defeated Munising’s Gabi Koenig and Sarah Schultz 6-1, 6-2 before triumphing over Paige Cavadeas and Hailey Bedard of Gladstone 6-0, 6-2. At No. 4 singles, Emily LaFave blanked Munising’s Morgan Flynn 6-0, 6-0 and defeated Paige Schwartz of Gladstone 6-2, 6-1. Anna Burch won 6-1, 6-0 against Munising’s Tzzy Nebel and won her first set against Lauren Parrett of Gladstone 6-2 before Parrett forfeited the second match, citing dizziness.

Gladstone’s Bridget Becker salvaged the Braves lone victory, defeating Kayla VanPortfliet of Escanaba in a hard fought 6-4, 6-4 match.

Gladstone coach Rich Trombly was less than thrilled with the play of his doubles pairings and said changes may be coming.

“We will have to change our doubles line-up,” he said. “Our play there has not been good. We have a lot of work to do in doing our job, which is to get the ball back in play. We are making way too many unforced errors.”

The heat was a concern, especially being that Esky had to play against two opponents today, back to back. Lueneberg did what he could to make it easier on his team.

“I told them once they got done (against Munising) to go home and take a nap, even 20 minutes. Usually we try to get them to come back and watch the final matches of somebody else, but I told them not to worry about it, just get some rest,” he said. “They started off fresh. They looked ready to go out and play.”

Lueneberg said the mental toughness of his team was a big contributor to their 4-0 start.

“It’s their court presence and how they deal with it when things aren’t going right,” he said. “When I look and see and I can’t tell if they’re winning or losing, that’s what I want. No highs or lows. It’s a young group, but they’re starting to understand the game a little bit, and you can teach them more as they understand.”

Escanaba travels to Kingsford today, West Iron County Wednesday and Menominee Thursday. Gladstone hosts Menominee today and travels to Negaunee on Wednesday.