Washington Evening Journal
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Washington, IA 52353
FAIRFIELD — The field and conditions certainly didn’t make it easy for Fairfield senior Tess Paton in her bid for a second-straight state singles tournament trip on Wednesday, but through it all, Paton prevailed.
Last year’s Class 1A third-place finisher took second place in the singles portion of the regional tournament at Fairfield middle school, earning her one of two spots to the state meet.
“I was a little nervous about being back here, because I feel like it’s been a while since my last tennis season, even though it’s only been a year,” Paton said. “It’s really exciting, and I’m glad to have this opportunity.”
Paton cruised through her first two matches, defeating Centerville’s Allee Peterson 6-0, 6-0 in the opening round and beating Maharishi’s Yebbie Taffesse 6-0, 6-0 in the semifinals.
The opening wins pitted Paton against Assumption’s Lexis Timmerman in the semifinals. Timmerman gave Paton a tough first set, but the experienced senior pulled it out 7-5, 6-1 to lock up a state berth.
“There were quite a few players here that could have really given me a run for my money,” Paton said. “I’m glad to have competition in this area that I can practice against and compete with.”
Paton was dealing with some health issues toward the end of the tournament, battling blood sugar issues throughout the final match of the day. With that, and a 90-plus degree heat bearing down on the courts, Paton had to dig deep in a three-set championship against Assumption’s Mary Rolfstad.
“Playing Mary, she’s incredible, so I just had to stay focused,” Paton said. “It was quite a battle internally and it was also a great match.”
Rolfstad finally ended the tournament with a 4-6, 6-2, 10-7 in the championship match. Both players will be in the Class 2A singles bracket.
Maharishi’s Lily Fenton flirted with a second-straight state trip as well, but Fenton came up short against Rolfstad in the semifinals.
Fenton first knocked off Mt. Pleasant’s Ellie Situmeang 6-0, 6-1 in the opener and then knocked off Fort Madison’s Brianna Wright 6-1, 6-0 in the quarterfinals. Rolfstad outlasted Fenton 6-3, 6-2 in the semis.
Fenton was able to earn third place with a two-set victory over Timmerman in the third place match.
The area had two doubles teams make it to the brink of a state berth. Mt. Pleasant’s Savana Walls and Melanie Olivas finished third in the bracket, and Maharishi’s Sara Valls and Daira Valls took fourth.
Mt. Pleasant’s duo begun the day with a 6-2, 6-3 over a Centerville squad, and then knocked off Keokuk’s top team 6-3, 7-5 to earn a spot in the semifinals.
Walls and Olivas gave their opponents from Assumption a tough match in the semifinals. The Knights pulled out a 7-5 win in the first set, and parlayed that momentum into a 6-1 win in the second.
The Valls sisters had one of the closest matches of the entire tournament in the opening round. Maharishi’s pair defeated a Keokuk squad 6-4, 5-7, 11-9 to move on. In the second round, Maharishi found its groove with a 6-3, 6-1 win over Notre Dame-West Burlington.
Much like the Mt. Pleasant squad, Maharishi was vanquished by a pair from Assumption. Valls and Valls lost their semifinal 6-1, 6-1, giving both doubles bids to the Knights.
Mt. Pleasant beat Maharishi in two sets to earn third place at the end of the day.
Paton and the rest of the Class 1A singles qualifiers will play in the state meet on May 27 and May 28 at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. Before that, though, all three of the area’s teams will be back in Fairfield on Saturday for the regional team tournament.