This has been a long and strenuous week for the Hannibal and Palmyra girls tennis teams, which have combined to play seven matches over the course of four days.

This has been a long and strenuous week for the Hannibal and Palmyra girls tennis teams, which have combined to play seven matches over the course of four days.

Fortunately, both came away with some positive momentum following Thursday’s match that pitted the Lady Pirates against the Lady Panthers.

Palmyra won the varsity match 6-3, thanks in large part to singles victories from its top five players. After a tough loss for Palmyra against Quincy on Wednesday, the match Thursday offered an opportunity to get back on track, Kendra Maples said.

“Today, we redeemed ourselves,” she said.

Tori Maples, No. 1 on the Panthers squad, battled and ultimately defeated Hannibal’s top competitor Caitlyn Bueler 6-1, 6-3. And Palmyra’s No. 2 Kendra Maples labored to a win during a close match against Hannibal’s No. 2 Ashlyn Nichols 6-4, 6-4.

The next three Palmyra singles players followed suit: Emmy Griesbaum defeated Grace Deien 6-2, 6-1; Natalie Bartels defeated Emily Albright 6-4, 6-3; and Sami Bross defeated Hannah Deien 7-6, 6-3.

Hannibal’s No. 6 competitor, Shelby Heibel, picked up the Pirates’ lone singles victory with a hard-fought 7-5, 6-3 win against Palmyra’s Lauryn Wear.

In doubles action, two of the three matches went to a third, decisive set, including the battle of each team’s top doubles pair. Bueler and Albright made a big statement in the third set against Tori Maples and Bartels, handily defeating the Lady Panthers 10-4 in the final set.

“We complement each other really well,” Bueler said. “Emily is fast. I’m not so fast, but I’m strong. I’m definitely a doubles fan, so I’m glad that we won doubles.”

Grace and Hannah Deien also came away victors in doubles play, defeating Bross and Wear 6-7, 6-2, 10-8.

Kendra Maples and Griesbaum got the best of Nichols and Heibel 6-0, 6-1 for the Panthers’ lone doubles win.

Despite the loss, Hannibal coach Jay Johnson said he was pleased with how the first week of the season has unfolded.
The Lady Pirates are now 2-1 after victories against Fulton and Kirksville.

“Our outlook is good,” Johnson said. “We’re playing well right now, and we’re looking forward to improving our season over last year. We played a very tough Palmyra team. I feel like we played them better than we have in the past.”

Bueler shared the same feeling after the match.

“We’re definitely doing better than we thought,” she said of the team’s start this season. “We’re improving a lot. Palmyra is really tough but we got our first win against Kirksville in a long, long time, so we’re really proud of that.”

Palmyra coach Jessica Gottman said her team came out strong after losing a tough match fewer than 24 hours before. It’s important to learn how to move on from bad days and not let there be any carry-over effect, she said.

“The team has played really well this week,” Gottman said. “I know they’re tired. Last night against Quincy, a lot of them played better than I’ve ever seen them play. A lot of it’s mental. They have to be able to forget about yesterday.”

After a crazy opening week, both teams will get a chance to breathe Friday. 

Hannibal goes on the road three times next week, starting with a match against Columbia Battle on Monday. Palmyra is off until a home match against Kirksville on Tuesday.