ELDRIDGE — Pressure intensified as Gabby Haan and Jordan Nelson started play for the No. 2 doubles title Tuesday afternoon at the Mississippi Athletic Conference girls tennis meet.
Their Clinton High team needed just one more win to clinch a second consecutive team title. But to both their right and left were doubles team from Bettendorf, the school that has battled Clinton for MAC supremacy the past three decades and had been on the Queens’ heels the whole tournament.
Across the court stood two imposing figures from Davenport Assumption, which had thrust itself into the title picture by winning three singles titles earlier in the afternoon. And the Knights’ 6-foot-2 Hailey Schneden and 5-10 Kate Fennelly were no strangers to playing in the spotlight, both starters on Assumption’s basketball team that won a third consecutive state title this winter.
Their presences didn’t bother Nelson and Haan, though. Even after Bettendorf won at No. 1 doubles to pull within a half-point of Clinton, the CHS juniors remained confident.
“It was kind of pressure, but once we got the hang of it we were OK,” Nelson said. “After we went up 4-1 in the first set, we knew we had it.”
Haan said: “Since we beat them in a dual, we felt we could beat them. That one went to a tiebreaker, and it probably shouldn’t have.”
Nelson and Haan showed they were right not to worry. And, after the 6-2, 6-2 victory clinched the No. 2 title, Shannon Shovlain and Samantha Brisch combined to win the No. 3 doubles title in a super tiebreaker and tack on an extra point for Clinton,
“It was a battle the whole way through,” Clinton coach Cindy Rasche said. “It will make us tougher mentally before we see them in the regionals.”
The River Queens finished with 19.5 points, while Bettendorf had 17 and Assumption got 16.5.