Mitchell High School went down to the wire in both of its girls tennis duals in a triangular against Yankton and Sioux Falls Lincoln on Tuesday at Hitchcock Park, but on both occasions, they came up short.
Mitchell had six matches go to three sets and it dropped four of them as Yankton and Lincoln were both able to secure 5-4 wins over the Kernels.
“It seems like it’s about establishing momentum,” MHS head coach Pat Moller said. “There aren’t many momentum shifts in a tiebreak, and when one team gets a lead, it’s tough to come back. (Tuesday) that happened a lot. … We’re so close to being really, really good. We just have to continue to work on that mental part of our game.”
Mitchell (9-7, 4-4 ESD) met Yankton in its first dual of the day and the tiebreaks were a factor from the start. Four matches went to a third set and the Gazelles took three of them.
Mitchell’s Kelsey Dahme took the first set from Josephine Krajewski at No. 1 singles, but Krajewski came back to take the next two, 2-6, 6-3, 10-8. Kiersten Bathke also won the first set against Maddie Binder at No. 4 singles, but Binder won the final two sets, 6-7(2), 6-1, 10-5.
Amber Moller and Olivia Huber battled back from a loss in the first set against Maggie Schaefer and Stacia Sherman in No. 2 doubles play, but the Yankton duo won 6-1, 1-6, 10-2.
“We’ve played them twice now and put ourselves in position to win -- we just have to take that final step,” Moller said. “Hopefully we can do that with the (postseason) tournaments coming up here.”
Despite its close loss to Yankton, Mitchell still had enough left to take three-time defending state champion Lincoln to the brink. Once again, it came down a third-set tiebreak.
Allison Mastel and Bathke dueled with Lincoln’s Avery Blackman and Katie Johnson through two sets, but it was the Patriot tandem that prevailed at No. 3 doubles in a meet-deciding win, 6-4, 5-7, 10-5.
“Boy, did our girls play well,” Moller said. “... To play as well as we did and be that close to a really, really good team -- I don’t think they’ve lost more than one match in any dual this year -- that’s a boost in confidence. The girls should believe they can beat anybody.”
Dahme beat Ree Baireddy at No. 1 singles, 6-3, 6-2, and Moller topped Blackman at No. 5 singles, 5-7, 6-1, 10-0. Meanwhile, in a battle of players with one loss at No. 6 singles, Ashley Jones topped Johnson in straight sets, 6-3, 6-2.
Mitchell attempts to get back on track after dropping six of eight duals in September when it hosts Spearfish and Yankton in a dual at 11 a.m. on Saturday at Hitchcock Park.