WATERLOO - Ballard’s Kate Rietz put a great capper to a fantastic senior season in girls’ tennis by placing sixth in the Class 1A state singles tournament May 30 and 31 at the Byrnes Park Tennis Courts in Waterloo.
Rietz went 3-2 over the two days to finish her final season with an 19-5 record. She made state last year, but did not pick up a victory.
“This year, she hoped to get at least two wins on the first day and advance into day two of the tournament,” Ballard head girls’ tennis coach Jen Dovre said.
“(In) her words, ‘The rest is just icing on the cake.’”
In the championship bracket, Rietz won her first match and fell to the eventual state runner-up in the quarterfinals.
She went to post a 2-1 record in the consolation bracket.
Rietz swept Dubuque Wahlert’s Caroline Hutchison, 6-0 and 6-1, in the opening round.
In the quarterfinals, she lost to Fairfield’s Yana Gaskell by similar scores of 6-1 and 6-0.
“Hutchinson brought a slower pace to the match, with loopy strokes and patient play, but Rietz outlasted her patience and moved the ball around the court,” Dovre said. “In the quarterfinals, Rietz gave a great performance by taking many games to deuce points, but Gaskell’s consistent, solid pace and ability to hit great angles proved too difficult.”
The loss to Gaskell placed Rietz in the consolation second round, where she swept Columbus Catholic’s Anna Sinnott with a pair of 6-2 victories.
“Each set started close, both reaching 3-2 at one point, but Rietz employed well-placed lobs and low passing shots to overcome Sinnott’s strong net play,” Dovre said.
“Rietz once again exhibited her mental toughness, persistence with each point, and patient style to advance to day two. This final win of the day secured Rietz’s goal of achieving two wins on day one of the tournament.”
In the consolation third round the following day, Rietz took care of LeMars’ Elizabeth Ihrke in straight sets, 6-3 and 6-4.
“Rietz started the match behind 3-1, but she won a deuce point to make it 3-2 and she would not give up another game until the third game in the second set,” Dovre said. “Rietz started the second set strong with a 3-1 lead, but Ihrke regained the lead at 4-3. Reitz locked in her focus, and she won the next three games to complete the match with a win. Ihrke played with an aggressive, strong style, moving the ball around the court throughout the match, but Rietz’s consistency and strategic shots earned her a place in the fifth-place match.”
The win over Ihrke pitted Rietz against Shenandoah’s Nicole Gilbert in the fifth-place match. Rietz put up a great fight in the first set before falling, 6-4, and she loss the second by a 6-1 margin to drop the match.
“After a slow start, Rietz trailed Gilbert 5-1, (but) battled back to 5-4 (before losing) the 10th game on a deuce point to drop the set,” Dovre said. “In the second set, Gilbert picked up her game and ran away with a 5-0 lead before Rietz could finally come away with a game. Gilbert returned with the final point to finish the set.”
“The loss handed Rietz a respectable sixth-place finish and the realization of surpassing her goals for the state tournament,” Dovre said. “ The sixth-place finish puts Rietz among the top three highest-place finishers in Ballard girls’ tennis.”
Fairfield’s Anatta Charoenkul was the 1A singles’ state champion topping her teammate — Gaskell — in the finals with two 6-4 victories.