Herald Staff Report
CEDAR RAPIDS —
Clinton turned its attention to team play after top singles player Griffin Rasche came away with an eighth-place finish Friday at the Iowa Class 2A girls tennis state tournament.
There still was time to enjoy the individual accomplishments, though.
"I'm happy to say I got eighth place," Rasche, a junior, said.
"Not too shabby," said Cindy Rasche, Clinton's coach and Griffin's aunt. "She fought hard and played well. She's getting a lot better at coming to the net, putting the ball away and being a more aggressive player."
Griffin Rasche lost 6-2, 6-1 to Abby Bergsten of Council Bluffs Lewis Central in the consolation semifinals, then lost 6-4, 6-4 to Judith Fan of Ames in the seventh-place match.
"Everybody's got a plan to win, but it can be a little challenging when you have a 25-mile-an-hour wind in your face," Cindy Rasche said. "The first girl was about 6-foot tall and had a good serve."
Bergsten wound up in fifth place, beating Pleasant Valley's Katie Melbourne 6-4, 7-6 (5) in the fifth-place match. Jaci Cochrane of Fort Dodge beat Eve Small of Iowa City High 6-4, 7-5 in the championship match. Top seeds Michelle Van Roekel and Madeline Heer of Urbandale won the doubles crown, beating Lilly Hartman and Rina Moore of Cedar Rapids Washington 7-6 (5), 6-3. Bettendorf's Ali Grampp and Dana Waterman finished sixth.
Griffin Rasche placed seventh in doubles last year with then-senior Meggie Buikema. But, singles was a whole new experience.
"It's way different, and it was good to be on my own and not to depend on people," Rasche said. "It's definitely a whole new game than doubles. It's nice to have a partner to lift you up, but it was fun (in singles)."
Friday's pressure was different than Thursday's.
"Yesterday, I knew I needed to try my hardest to get here and be in the final eight," she said. "I knew I had to push myself more today."
Coach Rasche expects the experience will make her niece push herself more for next season. But, there still is one more day left in tennis season, and it involves the entire team.
"We had them practice both days, so everybody feels comfortable if it's windy tomorrow," she said. They also formed a cheering section for their teammate Friday.
"They're very good supporters," Cindy Rasche said. "We have three who haven't been to state before, and I think they've enjoyed the experience."
The River Queens face four-time defending state champion Ames in today's team semifinals at 9 a.m. — it's a rematch from last year's semifinals — while top seed Urbandale faces Iowa City West in the other semifinal.
"We have a lot cut out for us," Griffin Rasche said. "They're state champions, but we could be state champions. We could upset them and prove something to the people."
Cindy Rasche said: "We're looking forward to the battle. They lost their top two from last year and moved girls up like we did. The girls have prepared well. It probably will come down to the mental game because I think we're comparable stroke-wise."