WATERLOO — When you speak of high school girls tennis in the state of Iowa, Waterloo Columbus is always a headliner.
The Sailors have won 17 state team championships, and that team success usually translates into individual portion of the state tournament as well.
Point in case, a duo from Columbus has won the state doubles championship 23 times. Five times the Sailors have had a state individual champion but Columbus hasn’t had a individual champion since Cheri Mixdorf took home the crown in 1975.
Friday, however, that 41 year drought ended when sophomore Olivia Fain upset top-seeded Anatta Charoenkul of Fairfield, 6-3, 6-3, to capture the 1A singles title at the Brynes Park Tennis Center. Later in the day, Lauren McManus and Taylor Hogan defeated teammates Karlee Sinnott and Brianne Eighme to give Columbus its 24th state doubles champions.
“I did not know that it has been that long a go,” a surprised Fain said. “This is such a great program here and I just feel blessed to play for Columbus.
“I have wanted to play in a match like this my whole life. My mom played on a championship team for Columbus (1986), and she still beats me sometime.”
Fain and Charoenkul cruised through the singles’ draw on day one, then disposed of their respective opponents on Friday morning in the semifinals, setting up their much anticipated battle.
Charoenkul defeated Waverly-Shell Rock’s Chelsea Poesch 6-2, 6-2, and Fain quickly eliminated Kally Peterson of Decorah 6-1, 6-0.
Poesch claimed third with a 6-1, 6-3 win over Peterson.
Fain began the championship match a little sluggish as she dropped the first two sets putting herself in a 2-0 hole. A cross court forehand gave Fain her first set win and she won five of the final six games to claim a 6-3 win.
With the temperatures climbing into the mid 80’s, Sailors coach Dave Will felt the need to change her game a little to make the run at the title.
“Olivia was hitting the short ball and getting her slice and chop shots down, but then her opponent (Charoenkul) began charging the net and making the plays,” Will said. “I just told Olivia to be patient and start mixing her game up a little and start testing her (Charoenkul) back hand. This girl has only lost one game all year.”
Fain began attacking the backhand and picking up huge points to eventually take a 5-3 lead before an epic final game that saw eight match points before Fain finally put away Charoenkul to claim her prize.
“I started out the match a little nervous, but once we got into it I settled down,” Fain said. “I just started to move my feet more and doing what coach had told me. She is a really good player and I believe there may be more matches to come between us.”
Asked what she plans on doing to celebrate her state championship, Fain simply said, “I am going to play soccer.”
The Sailors hosted Iowa Falls-Alden in Class1A regional semifinal Friday, just hours after Fain’s singles victory.
In doubles action, the Sailors already had their 24th title locked up before the final began.
McManus and Hogan, the top seeds, put themselves in the record books as champions as they defeated Sinnott and Eighme, 7-5, 6-3.
Sinnott and Eighme had already knocked off number three seed Elizabeth Bush and Erin McGivern of Davenport Assumption on Thursday 6-3, 6-4, and McManus and Hogan knew it would become a battle.
“I was so excited to get to play them, especially since we were from the same school,” McManus said.
“They are a great team together because they play so aggressively and they are very tall. We had to get the ball over them and make good shots. We just stuck to our game plan and it felt great to win.”
“It was way cool that both our teams made it,” Hogan added. “We wanted to try and relax and just have fun, and do our best in front of everyone. It felt so awesome for me because my whole family was here for me and they are my best supporters all year. I wanted to hustle for every thing and play my best in front of them.”
Hogan logged a lot of miles from the base line as it became difficult for their opponents to find an opening.
“She is pound-for-pound the quickest athlete out here,” Will said of his freshman star. “These girls have worked hard at doubles all season and there has never been five girls from the same school in a tennis championship before, with both doubles making it and Olivia,” added Will. “We are a very young team and I believe we are even going to be better next year.”
A scary thought for the rest of the teams in Class 1A.
The Decorah Vikings claimed a third place finish in doubles with Katelyn Yee and Kelsey Kruse rallying twice to defeat Jenna Taylor and Alli Thomsen from Creston. Yee and Kruse lost the first game 6-1, then found themselves down 5-0 in the second before a major rally saw them pull out a 1-6, 7-6, 1-0 victory.
Class 1A state tennis
SEMIFINALS—Olivia Fain (Waterloo Columbus) def. Kally Peterson (Decorah) 6-1, 6-0, Anatta Charoenkul (Fairfield) def. Chelsea Poesch (Waverly-Shell Rock) 6-2, 6-2.
THIRD PLACE—Poesch def. Peterson 6-1, 6-3.
CHAMPIONSHIP—Fain def. Charoenkul 6-3, 6-3.
SEMIFINALS — Lauren McManus/Taylor Hogan (Waterloo Columbus) def. Katelyn Yee/Kelsey Kruse (Decorah) 6-1, 6-1, Karlee Sinnott/Brianne Eighme (Waterloo Columbus) def. Jenna Taylor/Alli Thomsen (Creston) 6-0, 6-4.
THIRD PLACE—Yee/Kruse def. Taylor/Thomsen 1-6, 7-6, 1-0.
CHAMPIONSHIP—McManus/Hogan def. Sinnott/Eighme 7-5, 6-3.