Mattoon’s Emily Stortzum tries to return a volley during Mattoon’s Class 1A Doubles Sectional semifinal match against Casey-Westfield Friday afternoon.
By Chet Piotrowski
Mattoon’s Emily Stortzum and Tess Huene had just gained momentum entering their second set Class 1A sectional quarterfinal match against Casey-Westfield’s Eva Richardson and Gwen Eckerty.
Bouncing on their feet, the Green Wave tennis duo had just put away the Warrior pair, 6-3, with precision teamwork reminiscent of how they had dispatched Richardson and Eckerty to advance to state last year.
Then it all fell apart in the second set.
Casey-Westfield, already ahead 40-0 on Mattoon’s serve, ripped a winner down the middle that split Stortzum and Huene, stealing their serve point taking a 1-0 second set lead.
The Warrior pair wasted no time in taking a 2-0 lead, denying Stortzum and Huene points in the second match.
Stortzum, coming off a first-set win where her net play was excellent, served to keep the Green Wave within reach of the C-W players. Mattoon went up 15-0, only to lose a point going 15-15, and then to 30-30 after Richardson returned a volley to where Huene had been standing just previously.
After a service error, the Warriors duo broke Mattoon’s serve by stealing a point to go ahead 40-30 and eventually the third game.
Casey-Westfield’s Eva Richardson, serving for the set win with a 5-0 lead for the Warrior duo, dropped two serve points to fall behind 30-0. Huene returned a volley down the middle that gave Mattoon a 40-15 advantage before Richardson double-faulted on her next serve to make it 5-1.
Ahead 30-15, Stortzum and Huene couldn’t capitalize and lost the set 6-1 – the same score as the final set.
“I think it’s easier in the second set to just chill and be less competitive because you know you won a set,” Hune said, “and it’s going to be a breeze and it’s not. So it’s harder to be competitive.”
Mattoon tennis coach Dwight Perry, who will be saying goodbye to his crew Tuesday evening during an end of year wrapup, said the final results was surprising.
“This last match with Emily and Tess – somewhat of a disappointment,” Perry said. “You have to show up and play. We didn’t think we played as well as we can play. But you have to give credit to Casey-Westfield also because those girls were just more into it and wanted it just a little bit more than what we did.”
With Casey-Westfield ahead 1-0 in the first set, Huene served for Mattoon giving up one point at 15-15 before her and Stortzum retired their opponents equalizing the score.
The teams traded points with the Warriors going up 3-2 before Huene served. On her second attempt, Huene blew a service winner past Richardson and Eckerty. After losing two points, Huene again came back this time with an ace followed by a service winner to even the score at 3 apiece.
Down 15-40 in the next game, Stortzum dropped a volley just over the net that Richardson returned out of bounds. On the ensuing serve, Stortzum made a strong return for deuce and Huene subsequently returned a serve down the middle for the point, game and a 4-3 lead.
Stortzum dropped another winner at 40-30 in the next game to make it 5-3.
The Green Wave allowed them two points to win the next game and the set, 6-3.
“I feel liked we worked more as a team than as two individuals trying to get the ball over and putting away the shots that we needed to,” Stortzum said. “I think we got overconfident with ourselves and tried to play risky instead of consistently. We played better in the first match with being competitive but consistent.”
Stortzum said she’s more sad than disappointed.
“I think it’s not necessarily disappointment but just sad that the season is over,” she said. “We’re glad that we got to play in spite of COVID. I feel like we could’ve done much better. You can’t change the past.”
The retiring coach knew coming into Friday’s sectional knowing it wasn’t going to be easy.
“After winning a set like we did that we opened with in 6-3, you would think that we would have had some momentum, but for some reason it just disappeared,” he said. “These two have been with me for four years and they are very hard workers. I couldn’t ask for any more from them. I’m sure they are disappointed with their performance today, too. It’s bittersweet at the moment.”
Mattoon’s second doubles team of Caroline Davis and Annalise Overmyer lost their second round match to second-seeded Lucy List and Sarah Staller of Robinson, 6-3, 6-4.
Charleston’s doubles teams of Emma Amaya and Hannah Larson lost their opening round match, 6-4, 6-3, to Effingham’s Alia Woomer and Gracie Kroenlein, and Clara Cox and Maci Mayhall lost to Effingham’s Eden Wendling and Lydia Kull, 7-6 (4), 6-2.
In the singles bracket, Mattoon’s Elaina Short lost to top-seeded Grace Hoene in the second round, 6-3, 6-0, while Charleston’s Hannah Larson lost to Newton’s Madison Emmerich, 6-2, 6-1.
Charleston’s Maggie Goetten defeated Newton’s Lindsey McClain, 7-5 6-2, to advance to the quarterfinals before losing to Pari’s Kendall Mathews, 6-2, 6-1.