ESCANABA - The two softball opponents battled it out on the tennis courts at No. 1 singles Tuesday. One looking like the poised veteran and the other looking like the fire-balling pitcher she is on the mound.
Escanaba's Codi Jenshak made her 6-0, 6-0 victory over Alison Austin of Gladstone look almost effortless as she moved with poise and grace, in contrast to Austin's aggressive swing.
Jenshak, the reigning All-stater was simply in the zone, as she has been all season.
Keith Shelton | Daily Press
Cathryn Wood of Escanaba hits a return shot at net-front Tuesday at Ludington Park during a match at No. 1 doubles against Gladstone.
"I'm definitely more comfortable after playing at No. 1 last year," she said. "There's still matches where I know I have to play really hard and focus on everything. You definitely have to perform on that day to be the best that day."
Austin meanwhile, is still adjusting after making the jump from playing at No. 3 singles last season.
"It's my first year at No. 1 singles and last year I only played half the season at No. 3. It's been frustrating at times, but I've been improving each match, just taking it one game at a time," she said.
"I expected it to be really hard. I knew how good the girls at No. 1 singles were, It's definitely tough."
Both players said their skills on the softball field translate well to the tennis court.
"Softball helps a lot," said Jenshak. "My serve and my throwing motion, that's pretty much it."
Austin added, "It helps with hand-eye coordination of course. And sometimes when I'm swinging, I think of swinging a bat. I just make sure to line up my shot."
Escanaba coach Dennis Lueneburg said there is still room for Jenshak to improve.
"I still think Codi can do more. She's a good athlete and I'm always pushing her to do more," he said. "She's had some nice wins, but I'm coming at it from a different viewpoint. I know what it takes and I know what we've had in the past."
The Eskymos and Braves ended up in a 4-4 tie Tuesday at Ludington Park and Escanaba High School, though in some small part the outcome could be a minor victory for Gladstone. Escanaba won the previous match this season 5-3.
"I think our doubles play is starting to improve. We're not giving up as many free points," said Gladstone coach Rich Trombly. "Alison Austin, I don't know what the score indicates, but she's really made improvements. She stepped up real well the other day against Sam Fleming (of Kingsford). It's tough matches every time she goes out there. She's starting to move the ball around the court and starting to take control of the points, like she has to at No. 1 singles. She's really improved as the season has gone on at that spot."
The match of the day, that turned the tide in Gladstone's favor was at No. 3 doubles where Paige Schwartz and Anna Caramela pulled out a marathon 5-7, 7-6, 7-6 victory over Audrey Wilson and Breanna Dault.
"No. 3 doubles was big for Gladstone. We won there in straight sets last time. Maybe it shows the girls need to put in some more time," said Lueneburg.
Another exciting match happened at No. 1 doubles where Cathryn Wood and Braedyn Bosilovatz defeated Bridget Becker and Nicolle Trudeau 7-6, 4=6, 6-1.
The superior positioning and movement of Wood beat out the hard hitting and quick reflexes of Becker, as the match featured many long points.
Trombly said Becker and Trudeau are capable of more.
"They're capable of playing a little bit better, they have that in them," he said. "They have a little bit of a hard time getting it out sometimes and being consistent, but if they can be more consistent they'll be very tough in our doubles lineup."
Escanaba is still looking for wins at No. 2, 3 and 4 singles. Johanna Snowden came close at No. 2 singles, forcing a third set, but Gabby Movalson ended up taking the match 6-2, 4-6, 6-3.
"I think all singles are doing what they can. For some people it takes a little longer," said Lueneburg of his young singles lineup. "It's important that they keep getting out on the court and keep hitting the ball. Eventually success will come, they just have to go through this. A lot of these girls haven't played a lot of tennis and there is no shortcuts. You have to put the time in on the court. You don't get better just by watching."
Lueneburg said he's searching for more drive from his team.
"There's an ingredient that they have to have that gets you to be self-motivated. Until that happens, progress will be a little slow," he said. "That goes for anyone on the team. We had some close matches today that didn't need to go close. It shows Gladstone is getting better. Just because we did better in certain flights last time, doesn't mean it's an automatic repeat. You have to keep at it."
Escanaba travels to Kingsford Thursday while Gladstone heads to Westwood on Monday.
Gladstone 4, Escanaba 4
No. 1 - Codi Jenshak, E, def. Alison Austin 6-0, 6-0; No. 2 - Gabby Movalson, G, def. Johanna Snowden 6-2, 4-6, 6-3; No. 3 - Lauren Parrett, G, def. Karlie Mayville 6-0, 6-1; No. 4 - Cassandra LaMarch, G, def. Olivia LaForest 7-5, 6-2.
No. 1 - Cathryn Wood-Braedyn Bosilovatz, G, def. Bridget Becker-Nicolle Trudeau 7-6, 4-6, 6-1; No. 2 - Zoe Berquist-Jalyn Dagenais, E, def. Melissa Casey-Brooke Douglas 6-3, 6-0; No. 3 - Paige Schwartz-Anna Caramella, G, def. Audrey Wilson-Breanna Dault 5-7, 7-6, 7-6; No. 4 - Olivia Berquist-Shelby Gregoire, E, def. Kayla Wiltzius-Audrey Strom 6-3, 6-4.