CLINTON — The Clinton River Queens punched their first ticket to the Iowa High School Girls' State Tennis Meet with a singles championship from senior Kiersten Housenga on Wednesday afternoon.
"We did some good battling all day today," Clinton coach Cindy Rasche said. "I'm very excited for Kiersten Housenga. She's a person who's well-deserving, a person who's put in her time in the summer and year round to be a great athlete and be in the final 16 in the state."
The single elimination regional tournament was played at Max Lynn Courts in Clinton—essentially a home meet for the River Queens.
"It's great to have home court advantage," Rasche said. "We'll take it anytime we can get it. Who wouldn't want home court advantage."
Housenga got a bye for the first round, and then didn't have much to handle in the second. She defeated Tavia Young from Davenport North 6-0 and then won by injury default.
The next round was a bit harder for her. Plus, she knew if she won she would automatically qualify for state.
"It was harder than the first, I had to work for it," Housenga said. "I just kept pushing myself through, I needed to make i through that one."
In that round, she took down Dubuque Senior's Riley O'Donnell 6-1, 6-2.
"I got to the last one, I was already happy," Housenga said. "My stresses were gone and I was here and I knew I might as well go for it."
And she went for it. She defeated Natalie Kaiser from Dubuque Senior 6-1, 6-1.
"That's been what I've been working for it," Housenga said. "It's my last year, I'm so excited to be going. My doubles partner and I were second last year, so it was nice to get the championship and as a single.
"My mindset was just good today. I wanted to do it."
When she was done, all she had to say was that it was a "long day". Despite the bye, she still had three tough matches to play. By the time she had reached the finals and knew she was a qualifier, she was able to relax a little.
"That helped me a lot I think," Housenga said. "The pressure was gone. The match before was my stressful one and it got me through it."
It was a big day for the Queens' No. 1 player.
"She has great feet, good hands, and is the ultimate good sportsman," Rasche said. "She's a joy to work with."
She's an ultimate athlete as well. Housenga also plays soccer for the River Queens, dividing her time between the two all spring.
"Doing two sports I have to make sure I spend the short time here putting in all my effort," Housenga said. "You have to have a positive attitude all the time."
Winning at home made it all a little sweeter.
"I love it," Housenga said. "I have way more support. A bunch of my friends came today and that helped get me through and made it even more exciting."
The two doubles teams for Clinton ended up playing each other for third place. Kylie Housenga and MacKenzie Lange won by injury default over their teammates for the bronze medal.
The River Queens move on to the team regional on Saturday. That also takes place in Clinton. The last step towards state takes place at Bettendorf High School on Monday afternoon.
"I hope to come out smelling like a rose and be one heading down to Bettendorf on Monday," Raasche said. "That's the ultimate idea."