CAMANCHE — The Camanche Indians fell as a team in regional play, but senior Marly Bussa and junior Natalie Goble made up for it in doubles.
The pair qualified for the Iowa High School Girls State Tennis Meet after becoming regional champs on Wednesday.
“I think from the get go we were pretty confident with the season,” Goble said. “We started off strong and it just kind of continued.”
The pair dominated the first matches, eventually beating a Cedar Rapids Xavier team to make it to the championship match. Just making it to the finals automatically qualified them.
“The first couple matches really went well for us,” Goble said. “It was a good warmup for us I think. As the matches got tougher we just got more rigorous and aggressive. We were able to play like we really like to play and that worked for us in the finals.”
The pair won the first set, but fell 1-6 in set two.
“We stopped communicating and we were getting really angry with each other,” Bussa said. “We went and sat in the shade. We talked about what we needed to work on: communicating and being more aggressive at the net.”
Then they came back to take the third 6-0.
“When you show up and win the first set but lose the second set, you really want to prove that you earned that first set and it wasn’t just luck,” Goble said. “Winning the third set proves your dominance and proves you wanted it more I think.”
The pair may not look intimidating—neither of them stand above 5’5. Being aggressive, though, is one of their approaches on the court.
“When you’re aggressive at the net, a lot of people don’t expect that from girls that are this short,” Goble laughed. “A lot of the girls we play are tall and they don’t think we’ll go for the balls that are down the middle and we do. We’re able to really play out those net balls and it shocks them.”
Part of the reason they mesh so well as a doubles team in their compatibility of play.
“They play really similarly and you don’t always want to people who play similar on a doubles team but they are great together,” Camanche coach Emily Turner said. “They’re both short, they’re bot quick, they both are very aggressive and they have really nice strokes and ground serves. They both have a lot of tools and you put them together and they’re a really effective doubles team.
“They’re good because they balance each other personality wise, too.”
This is Goble’s second trip to state in doubles. The junior says she’s taken a lot from watching Bussa play.
“I think knowing that we could count on her to be at the meets and then her consistency,” Goble said. “We could always count on her to play a tough match. Even if she didn’t win, she would lose close. She’s one of those players who keeps pushing.
“She’s good at motivating without knowing she does it. It’s really how she behaves and how she plays.”
Bussa qualified her freshman year with an Indians squad who qualified as a team. This is her first trip as an individual qualifier.
“It’s exciting to go as a team, but it’s different to get that individual,” Turner said.
It’s a little extra sweet coming her senior year. Just ask Bussa if she’s excited:
The state competition starts on May 31 and runs until June 1. Bussa is putting off softball practice until after that point so she can focus on one thing: performing their best.
“State champs, that’s a goal,” Bussa said.