Sarah Lemming remembers losing to Elle Ford when she was a freshman at number one singles.
On Tuesday night at Trinity Lutheran, it was a different outcome for the now-junior Lemming.
Lemming dropped the first set 6-3, but she came back and won the next two to take the match and score her team’s only points on the evening.
“I feel very accomplished,” Lemming said. “I just kept my head in the game.”
There were a couple of moments where the longevity of the match started to take its toll on Lemming. She needed to pause the match to put a Band-Aid over a blister on her foot.
The match was nearly two and a half hours long.
“If I get too overwhelmed, I start playing badly, but if I take a step back and take a deep breath, then I’ll play better,” Lemming said.
Lemming’s 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory was the lone point for the Cougars on the day.
In number two singles, senior Regan Cain lost to Julia Worcester 2-6, 0-6, and in number three singles, senior Erin Enzinger lost to Audrey Bave 0-6, 0-6.
Senior Katelyn Mensendiek and freshman Kiley Zabel put up a good fight in number two doubles, just losing to Autumn Harmon and Alliana Voorhies 5-7 in the first set. They dropped the second set 2-6.
In number one doubles, senior Rebekah Brown and freshman Drew Hubbard lost to Syernia Hardy and Autumn Gross 2-6, 0-6.
“This is what I would call our diagnostic match,” head coach Julie Lemming said. “We got to see where our shortcomings are and where our strengths are.”
Hubbard and Zabel are both freshmen and competed in their first matches Tuesday. Coach Lemming was pleased with the way they handled themselves on the court.
“I’m super proud of their effort,” Lemming said. “Now, they know what to expect and can move on.”
The Cougars have a team motto for this season, and that’s if something goes wrong, you flush it.
Lemming feels like she saw a lot of that Tuesday, especially in Sarah’s match, which was a roller coaster of momentum swings.
“Sarah had a lot of grit,” Lemming said. “She was able to persevere and get us our one point.”
Lemming talks about toolboxes in tennis, and she believes Sarah has multiple tools in that box that she’s able to pull out during matches to frustrate her opponent.
Sarah said her goal was to move Ford around the court so she wasn’t able to predict her next move.
“She’s a smart player,” Lemming said.
With it being the first match of the year for the Cougars, conditioning is one thing Lemming thinks the team needs to focus on moving forward.
The team will be in competition again April 13 when they travel to Madison for a match.
“We’ll reflect on what we need to work on,” Lemming said. “I feel good about us moving forward and pursue our next matches.”