Tigers tie for second at Allegan Invite

By: 
Jason Wesseldyk

Each year, some of the best girls’ tennis teams in the Divisions 2 and 3 participate in the Allegan Invitational.
This year was no exception.
In addition to the host Tigers, who entered the day ranked fourth in Division 3, the tournament featured the third-ranked team in Division 2 (East Grand Rapids) and the top-ranked team in Division 3.
Playing against such tough competition did little to faze Allegan, which ended up with 16 points to finish tied with Detroit County Day for second behind East Grand Rapids (19 points).
Seeing her team perform so well against such high-caliber opponents didn’t surprise Allegan coach Jen Aldrich.
“I think it was a confidence booster for many of players knowing that they can also compete against some of the top teams in the state,” she said. “As coaches, we know they can and tell them that every day. But they needed to experience it so they can start believing it.
“As a coach, I needed to see the areas we still need to work on and improve on to continue to prepare for May and June.”
The Tigers likely would have done even better had it not been for an injury to No. 2 singles Emma Ruga.
Leading 2-1 in the first set of her opening match, Ruga pulled her quad and was forced to withdraw from the tournament.
“That was a tough call to get early in the tournament,” Aldrich said. “I was really looking forward to Ruga competing.”
Despite losing out on any potential points Ruga would have earned, the other flights did their part to make sure it would still be a successful day for the Tigers.
And no flight performed better than the No. 2 doubles team of Elizabeth Hill and Jasper Harrington and the No. 3 doubles team of Delaney Heckman and Maddy Layton.
Both of those teams won all three of their matches to win flight championships. Hill and Harrington beat the Detroit Country Day team 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 in the finals, while Heckman and Layton beat the East Grand Rapids team 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 in the finals.
The No. 4 doubles team of Maddie Wagner and Krista Kocur, meanwhile, finished runner-up, dropping a tough 6-3, 7-6 (4) decision to East Grand Rapids in the finals.
“Our 2, 3 and 4 doubles teams really stepped up to the tough competition with some big wins against some good teams,” Aldrich said. “Some of the things we have been talking about in practice, they were putting into place. They played smart and high percentage tennis.”
No. 4 singles Taryn Orr also finished runner-up for the best showing at singles.
“Taryn is better understanding what it takes to play four singles and the style of play we are looking for,” Alrich said. “I’m excited to see her improvements in the next couple of weeks.”
No. 1 singles Regan Fales and No. 3 singles Aubrey DeBoer each placed third.
“Regan battled and played some of her best tennis of the season,” Aldrich said.
The No. 1 doubles team of Emma Philippus and Nicole Galloway won easily in its opening match with North Farmington (6-1, 6-0) before falling to St. Joseph in a tough match (5-7, 6-4, 6-4). The Allegan duo then fell to Detroit Country Day in the third-place match.
“They fought hard,” Aldrich said of Philippus and Galloway. “The chips just didn’t fall in our favor.  However, I truly think it was a great learning experience and they gained a ton from the competition. They are excited to get to practice and start to work on a few things they took away from their matches.”
 

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