OTTAWA — The most competitive and latest-running match of La Salle-Peru and host Ottawa’s Interstate Eight Conference girls tennis meet Tuesday featured a pair of usual doubles player slugging it out at No. 1 singles.
Like the other four varsity bouts, it ended with a Lady Pirates victory.
Ottawa defeated the visiting Lady Cavaliers 5-0 at the King Field courts, a victory capped off by Regan O’Fallon’s 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 win over Olivia Ernat at No. 1 singles on Court 5 in a fun, back-and-forth matchup of players adjusting on the fly to the singles game.
“You know, that was my high school singles debut in dual conference matches, and I’m undefeated now with a 100 percent win record,” said O’Fallon with a chuckle. “It was ugly, but I got the job done.
“(Singles) is really lonely. I get really competitive and I’m hard on myself, so it’s good sometimes to have a partner, someone on my side to cheer me on, someone to high-five on every point, and for me to cheer them on too. It’s really weird going from having someone with you to being by yourself on a smaller court ... but I finally woke up and got the job done.”
After splitting the opening two sets, O’Fallon — moved to singles by OHS coach Steve Johnson to maximize the Lady Pirates’ chances of wins across the board — took control of the rubber set by claiming the first three sets.
Olivia Ernat countered by taking three of the next four to draw to within 4-3, but O’Fallon composed herself and was overpowering down the stretch to finish things off game, set, match and wrap up the shutout for Ottawa.
Olivia Ernat, too, just recently made the switch from doubles play to singles, and while she would have loved the “W,” she was happy with her performance in the ultra-competitive match.
“I think that was one of my best matches yet,” L-P’s new No. 1 singles player said. “I haven’t really faced that level of competition. The transition (from doubles to singles) is different ... but I felt good. I thought I played well.
“I was getting tired and a little out of breath (by the final set), but I knew if I held my base and swung through and didn’t guide the ball, I could get some winners out of that. I know I didn’t win, but I thought I played pretty well.”
O’Fallon moved into the No. 1 singles spot via a switch with normal No. 1 singles player Sara Meyer. Meyer took O’Fallon’s spot alongside Ella Marvel at No. 1 doubles with the Ottawa duo defeating L-P’s Ame Ernat and Lauren Klein by scores of 6-1 and 7-5.
At No. 2 doubles, La Salle-Peru’s Bri Strehl and Sterling Tunget fell 6-3, 6-3 to the OHS team of Marta Johnson and Rebekah Felty. At No. 3 doubles, it was Ottawa’s Mally Charbonneau and Emily Walker handling the Lady Cavaliers team of Karissa Etzenbach and Olivia Woods 6-2, 6-1.
At No. 2 singles, the Lady Pirates’ Mary Riva got stronger as the match went on en route to a 6-4, 6-1 triumph over La Salle-Peru’s Arisu Oya.
Coach Aaron Guenther’s Lady Cavs are now 6-2 on the season (1-2 in the Interstate Eight). Ottawa improves to 5-0 (3-0).