WATERLOO — A busy spring weekend that included ACT tests, college visits and a major club volleyball tournament provided an opportunity for some younger competitors to see where they stack up against varsity competition during Saturday’s Top Gun tennis tournament at Byrnes Park.
It quickly became apparent that depth remains a strength of host Waterloo Columbus. The Sailors plugged freshmen Bella Fain and Elysse Trost into the back end of their singles lineup and cruised to a team title with 35 points. Decorah, a third-place Class 1A state team finisher a year ago, was runner-up with 28 points.
“It’s a nice situation to be in. We are very deep,” Columbus coach Dave Will said. “I have no problem with sending in the other kids to play because I know they’ll do a good job. The freshmen today are going to continue the tradition. Bella and Elysse really did a nice job. They were very impressive.”
That Columbus tradition includes an unprecedented 18 team championships. No players graduated from last year’s squad that captured the program’s fourth consecutive 1A title, making the Sailors the odds-on favorite to extend that streak.
Defending state singles champion Olivia Fain led Columbus on this day as she won her three singles matches by a cumulative score of 36-3 before teaming up with senior Franny Roche to dominate the No. 1 doubles bracket. The junior’s impressive showing during this round-robin tournament, in which competitors play 13-game matches, included an 11-2 victory over Decorah senior Kally Peterson in a rematch of last year’s 1A state singles semifinal.
Armed with a first serve that rarely got returned and groundstrokes that often dictated points, Olivia Fain says she still sees room for growth.
“I focus a lot on my weaker points, just to better them for state,” she said. “Kally obviously was at state so it’s good that I played her this early.”
Roche, Brianne Eighme, Bella Fain and Trost joined the elder Fain sister as Columbus’ Top Gun singles champions. Taylor Hogan and Bella Fain won their three No. 2 doubles matches by a total margin of 35-4, and Sailor teammates Anna Sinnott and Grace Sullivan went 3-0 at No. 3 doubles.
“I think everyone did a really good job, the best of their ability,” Olivia Fain added. “The fact that they (freshmen) can come in and play when we don’t have people here is awesome because that means we’ll be even better when the seniors graduate.”
Smiling when asked about playing on the same team as her younger sister for the first time Fain added, “It’s fun. She may not think it’s fun, but I think it’s fun.”
Decorah’s team had plenty of fun during last year’s state run, and veteran coach Larry Berland likes what he sees from the Vikings so far. Senior Anna Spencer edged Hogan, 7-6, for the No. 2 title one week removed from a No. 2 championship at Kennedy. Decorah finished runner-up to Columbus in the other five singles and three doubles divisions.
“We’ve had a couple of meets now against good competition and we’ve been able to answer the bell a bit,” Berland said. “Certainly, Columbus is the team to beat. We really cherish this Top Gun Tournament because we don’t see a lot of competition like this. The competition is going to make you better.”
Top Gun Tournament
TEAM STANDINGS — 1. Waterloo Columbus 35, 2. Decorah 28, Cedar Rapids Kennedy 17, Ottumwa 10.
No. 1 — 1. Olivia Fain (WC) 3-0, 2. Kally Peterson (Dec) 2-1, 3. Sydney Powers (CRK) 1-2, 4. Daniela Zeledon (Ott) 0-3.
No. 2 — 1. Anna Spencer (Dec) 3-0, 2. Taylor Hogan (WC) 2-1, 3. Carli Trueblood (CRK) 1-2, 4. Leslie Sanders (Ott) 0-3.
No. 3 — 1. Franny Roche (WC) 3-0, 2. Carina Yee 2-1 (Dec), 3. Reya Sands 1-2 (CRK), 4. Rose Kearney (Ott) 0-3.
No. 4 — 1. Brianne Eighme (WC) 3-0, 2. Mara Frieden (Dec) 2-1, 3. Lily Gast (CRK) 1-2, 4. Aaliyah Merrill (Ott) 0-3.
No. 5 — 1. Bella Fain (WC) 3-0, 2. Ali Groux (Dec) 2-1, 3. Allyson Shepherd (Ott) 1-2, 4. Ryley McIntyre (0-3).
No. 6 — 1. Ellyse Trost (WC) 3-0, 2. Rachel Grimstead (Dec) 2-1, 3. Emma Reggatz (CRK) 1-2, 4. Kimberly Souravong (Ott) 0-3.
No. 1 — 1. O. Fain/Roche (WC) 3-0, 2. Spencer/Yee (Dec) 2-1, 3. Powers/Trueblood (CRK) 1-2, 4. Zeledon/Saunders (Ott) 0-3.
No. 2 — 1. Hogan/B. Fain (WC) 3-0, 2. Peterson/Grimstad (Dec) 2-1, 3. Sands/Gast (CRK) 1-2, 4. Merrill/Souravong (Ott) 0-3.
No. 3 — 1. Anna Sinnott/Grace Sullivan (WC) 3-0, 2. Frieden/Groux (Dec) 2-1, 3. McIntyre/Teggatz (CRK) 1-2, 4. Shepherd/Ellen Carlson (Ott) 0-3.