CLINTON — When it comes to state tournaments, athletes usually prepare to face unfamiliar opponents.

But it was a familiar foe that stood between Ellen Russell and her quest to make the final eight in singles play at the Iowa Girls Class 2A State Tennis Tournament.

The Clinton High sophomores knocked off Mississippi Athletic Conference rival Kassandra Sadlek of Davenport Central 1-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-4 early Thursday evening at Max Lynn Courts to advance to today’s action.

Russell, who had split with Sadlek earlier this season, was slated to meet Frances Xin of Ames in the consolation semifinals this morning. The winner plays for fifth place later in the day and the loser for seventh.

Russell endured three matches Thursday, the first and third being lengthy.

She opened the day at Riverview Park courts against Haley Neiderhiser of Cedar Rapids Kennedy.

The match turned into an epic marathon that lasted 3 hours, 10 minutes before the Kennedy player emerged a victor by scores of 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Russell trailed the first set 2-1 before reeling off wins in five of the next six games.

The second set was tied 3-all, but Neiderhiser earned three straight victories to force a third set.

The third set was tied at 1, 2, 3 and 4 before Neiderhiser eked out two wins to post the match victory.

“I thought I could have played better, but it all depends on who shows up to play and she did,” said Russell. “It was kind of tough since she was left-handed and I don’t have any lefties in practice to go against. But I have been working with (former River Queen) Kate Brondyke, who’s a lefty. That’s helped me a lot.”

After a short rest, Russell had to take on Marshalltown’s Emily Heying in the consolation round. Russell’s fate was never in doubt as she went on to post a 6-2, 6-4 victory.

“It was getting hot and I was really, really tired from my first match,” said Russell. “My feet were dragging, but I managed to pull out the win.”

That win led to the meeting with Sadlek.

Russell, perhaps feeling the weariness of a long day on the court, lost the first set by a large margin.

She shot out to leads of 2-0 and 4-2 in the second set, only to see Sadlek collect three straight wins for a 5-4 lead.

Sadlek earned multiple match point opportunities in the next game after shooting out to a 40-15 lead.

But Russell, showing nerves of steel, rattled off three straight points to tie the set at 5-all.

Sadlek won the next game and Russell the next to make it 6-all.

In the tie-breaker, Russell grabbed a 3-1 lead and went on to win 7-5 to force a third set.

That set was tied at 2-all early before Russell scored three straight wins for a 5-2 edge.

After Sadlek came within 5-4, Russell won the next game for the victory.

“She has an unorthodox style of play which is difficult to adjust to,” said Russell. “When I beat her at regionals I went to the net every single point and my overheads were better.

“I started today playing more her game than mine,” Russell added. “I had to remind myself not to get too negative with myself and start playing my game.”

Russell said even though her back was to the wall at times during the match, she wasn’t nervous.

“I try not to think that it’s match point for the other person,” she said. “I just look at it as another point I’m trying to get.”

“We’re happy we’ll be working our way back towards fifth place,” said Clinton coach Cindy Rasche. “Ellen had a tough match on her final one. She had to use her net game and stay focused to beat her opponent.”

Rasche, who is running the tournament with her coaching staff, said things went great on the opening day.

“From a tournament director’s standpoint, it’s flowed wonderfully,” she said. “I really credit Deb Olson — she did a great job running the front table. She gets everybody out on the courts at the right times.”

Rasche added that she heard numerous positive comments from coaches and fans.

“Overall, everyone I’ve talked to seems pretty happy,” she said. “The one thing I keep hearing is how great it is to sit here (at Max Lynn Courts) and being able to see multiple matches at once. It’s been a great experience for everyone.”

In the 2A championship bracket, all four seeds in both singles and doubles play held true.

Bettendorf’s Chrissie McGaffigan (No. 1 singles seed), Iowa City West’s Hannah Jensen (No. 2), Boone’s Mary Pat McMullan (No. 3) and Fort Dodge’s Hilary Cochrane (No. 4) all won first-round and quarterfinal matches.

Also moving into today’s doubles semifinals with two wins apiece were Cedar Rapids Kennedy’s Leesa and Sarah Cadwallader (No. 1 seed), Pleasant Valley’s Andrea Baker and Emily Johnson (No. 2), Iowa City West’s Kelly McConnell and Jane Peters (No. 3) and Boone’s Maggi Schulte and Traci Moklestad (No. 4).

IOWA GIRLS CLASS 2A

STATE TENNIS TOURNAMENT

At Clinton

SINGLES

First round—Chrissie McGaffigan, Bettendorf, defeated Elyse Galles, WDM Valley, 6-1, 6-1; Kassandra Sadlek, Davenport Central, defeated Mirela Bacevac, Waterloo West, 1-6, 6-2, 6-4; Michelle Mayer, Urbandale/Waukee, defeated Laura Williams, Cedar Rapids Jefferson, 6-2, 3-6, 6-4; Hilary Cochrane, Fort Dodge, defeated Ayaka Kaneda, Southeast Polk, 6-0, 6-1; Mary Pat McMullan, Boone, defeated Frances Xin, Ames, 6-4, 7-5; Haley Neiderhiser, Cedar Rapids Kennedy, defeated Ellen Russell, Clinton, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4; Anna Porto, Dowling Catholic, defeated Jessie Searles, Bettendorf, 6-0, 6-1; Hannah Jensen, Iowa City West, defeated Emily Heying, Marshalltown, 6-0, 6-0.

Quarterfinals—Chrissie McGaffigan, Bettendorf, defeated Kassandra Sadlek, Davenport Central, 6-0, 6-0; Hilary Cochrane, Fort Dodge, defeated Michelle Mayer, Urbandale/Waukee, 6-0, 6-0; Mary Pat McMullan, Boone, defeated Haley Neiderhiser, Cedar Rapids Kennedy, 6-0, 6-0; Hannah Jensen, Iowa City West, defeated Anna Porto, Dowling Catholic, 6-2, 6-0.

Consolation First Round—Elyse Galles, WDM Valley, defeated Laura Williams, Cedar Rapids Jefferson, 6-0, 6-2; Mirela Bacevac, Waterloo West, defeated Ayaka Kaneda, Southeast Polk, 7-5, 6-3; Frances Xin, Ames, defeated Jessie Searles, Bettendorf, 6-0, 6-1; Ellen Russell, Clinton defeated Emily Heying, Marshalltown, 6-2, 6-4.

Consolation Quarterfinals—Anna Porto, Dowling Catholic, defeated Elyse Galles, WDM Valley, 0-6, 6-0, 6-2; Mirela Bacevac, Waterloo West, defeated Haley Neiderhiser, Cedar Rapids Kennedy, 6-3, 6-2; Frances Xin, Ames, defeated Michelle Mayer, Urbandale/Waukee, 6-2, 6-1; Ellen Russell, Clinton defeated Kassandra Sadlek, Davenport Central, 1-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4.

DOUBLES

First Round—Leesa Cadwallader/Sarah Cadwallader, CR Kennedy, defeated Steph Gibbons/Beth Olson, Ankeny, 6-2, 7-5; Lindsey McConnell/Katie Callaghan, Iowa City West, defeated Kristen Barnes/Alyssa Curtis, Bettendorf, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2; Anna Greenwald/Mandy Winkleblack, Ames, defeated Anna Sims/Jordan Pennington, Des Moines Roosevelt, 5-7, 6-4, 6-1; Maggi Schulte/Traci Moklestad, Boone, defeated Lynn Jeschke/Chelsea Allbaugh, Pleasant Valley, 6-3, 6-3; Kelly McConnell/Jane Peters, Iowa City West, defeated Danica Dummer/Marissa Henry, Urbandale/Waukee, 6-3, 6-1; Karen Mortensen/Martha Stover, Fort Dodge, defeated Abby Milloy/Maggie Peters, WDM Valley, 6-2, 6-2; Andrea Reese/Veena Bontu, Bettendorf, defeated Megan Fiala/Kerry Holland, Cedar Rapids Jefferson, 5-7, 6-2, 6-4; Andrea Baker/Emily Johnson, Pleasant Valley, defeated Ellie Blankenship/Allie Stigall, CR Kennedy, 6-0, 6-2.

Quarterfinals—Leesa Cadwallader/Sarah Cadwallader, CR Kennedy, defeated Lindsey McConnell/Katie Callaghan, Iowa City West, 7-6 (5), 6-4; Maggi Schulte/Traci Moklestad, Boone, defeated Anna Greenwald/Mandy Winkleblack, Ames, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (5); Kelly McConnell/Jane Peters, Iowa City West, defeated Karen Mortensen/Martha Stover, Fort Dodge, 6-7 (3), 6-1, 6-1; Andrea Baker/Emily Johnson, Pleasant Valley, defeated Andrea Reese/Veena Bontu, Bettendorf, 6-3, 6-0.

Consolation First Round—Steph Gibbons/Beth Olson, Ankeny defeated Anna Sims/Jordan Pennington, Des Moines Roosevelt, 6-2, 6-3; Kristen Barnes/Alyssa Curtis, Bettendorf, defeated Lynn Jeschke/Chelsea Allbaugh, Pleasant Valley, 6-2, 6-3; Megan Fiala/Kerry Holland, Cedar Rapids Jefferson defeated Danica Dummer/Marissa Henry, Urbandale/Waukee, 6-0, 6-4; Ellie Blankenship/Allie Stigall, CR Kennedy, defeated Abby Milloy/Maggie Peters, WDM Valley, 6-0, 6-4.

Consolation Quarterfinals—Andrea Reese/Veena Bontu, Bettendorf defeated Steph Gibbons/Beth Olson, Ankeny, 5-7, 7-6 (3), 6-1; Karen Mortensen/Martha Stover, Fort Dodge defeated Kristen Barnes/Alyssa Curtis, Bettendorf, 6-4, 6-2; Anna Greenwald/Mandy Winkleblack, Ames defeated Megan Fiala/Kerry Holland, Cedar Rapids Jefferson, 7-5, 7-5; Lindsey McConnell/Katie Callaghan, Iowa City West defeated Ellie Blankenship/Allie Stigall, CR Kennedy, 6-2, 6-0.

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