After having its original opening match postponed due to rain, the Lady Cats finally started the season Wednesday, falling to invading Defiance 3-2 at the NHS Courts.
The match came down to second doubles, with each team winning a set. Defiance’s tandem of Ava Shock and Megan Lockmiller were able to pull away in the third set for a 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 victory over Napoleon’s Shayna Eberly and Samantha Wulff in a match that lasted nearly two hours.
“I felt this was how the match could have ended up,” said Napoleon coach Nathan Butler. “This was our first match of the year and we were able to deal with the pressures of the match. The girls are down, but they will have the opportunity to bounce back tomorrow.”
Butler said he was proud of the way Eberly and Wulff rebounded after losing the opening set to force a third set and give the Lady Cats a chance at the team win.
“We started off the day talking about doing something, anything we can be proud of,” said Butler. “I think it was great for two seniors who have not played a lot of varsity tennis to go out there and put together a great effort. They are going to build confidence from this match.”
Napoleon, which started all seniors, posted wins at first singles and doubles, but dropped the other two singles matches.
Aliza Lankenau, who qualified for the state tournament the last two seasons, opened her senior campaign with a 6-0, 6-0 win over Alexa Bickford.
“She has a lot of experience playing in that No. 1 position,” said Butler. “She did what she wanted to do today and she played some really smart tennis.”
Maggie Weller and Addison Heitman defeated Marissa Blunt and Sofia Castillo 6-0, 6-1 at first doubles.
“I wanted them to give 100 percent effort, but hit at 80 percent today,” said Butler. “I wanted them to make sure the other team had to return their first service, even if it meant hitting it not as hard as they are able to. By getting that first service in it set the tone for the entire match.”
At second singles, Brianna Shank topped Ali Roth 6-1, 6-1 and Reece Miller bested Andrea Irving 6-0, 6-1 at third singles.
“I think it was good for us to open against a rival like Defiance and we were able to play seven seniors in the match,” said Butler. “They each gave great effort and were able to get those early jitters out of the way. Now it is just about playing tennis.”
Napoleon (0-1) returns to action today, hosting Rossford at 4:30 p.m.