CLINTON — While Clinton’s tennis veterans performed well Saturday— junior Griffin Rasche winning another No. 1 singles title and finishing third in No. 1 doubles alongside senior Rubina Vidal — the team title in the Clinton Invitational ultimately hinged on the play of a newcomer, freshman Samantha Brisch.
As the last match of the invitational, all eyes were on the Queens’ player as she faced Waterloo-Columbus’ Maggie Weber for the No. 4 singles bracket title. At that point, both teams were neck and neck in the team score. The winner would secure a team victory for her school.
“It all comes down to (Brisch’s) match at the end of the day,” Clinton head coach Cindy Rasche said. “Hats off to her, because she came in under a lot of pressure. Samantha played great.”
Beating Weber 8-5, Brisch’s victory pushed Clinton ahead in its home meet with 30 points, edging second-place Columbus, which scored 29. Burlington finished third with 11 points, followed by Clinton’s junior varsity, Bettendorf and Davenport North.
Brisch also won the No. 3 doubles bracket with partner Shannon Shovlain, defeating Columbus duo Gabby Grecco and Haley Cannon 8-4. It culminated in a satisfying day for Cindy Rashe, who said her team had high hopes going into Saturday.
“We’re a very goal-oriented team,” she said. “Obviously, we want to come out number one in our own invitational.”
But, Rashe added, the meet was also a good experience for Clinton’s junior varsity squad and said afterward that its fourth-place finish showcased the Queens’ depth. Clinton graduated three of its top four players in 2012, meaning new faces such as Brisch have been asked to “fill big shoes.”
“We tell our JV girls that we expect them to win matches over varsity teams,” Rasche said. “Everyone has had to slide up. Most teams, when you slide up three positions that high up in the ladder, aren’t quite as successful. I think we’re going to be just as successful as always.”