The Storm Lake tennis girls ended their regular season with a heartbreaker Tuesday, losing a 5-3 match to Denison on the home court with nearly every match-up going nip and tuck.
Abby Smith was unbeateable for the Tornadoes, sweeping 6-3, 6-0 in the number one singles slot, while sister Kelly survived a second set slugfest 6-3, 7-5 in a 7-4 tiebreak.
The sisters then teamed up to win at number one doubles.
"I was really proud of the girls. This is our first time playing Denison, so they went in pretty much blind, and they really battled some good competition with a lot of close matches," Storm Lake coach Staci Maloy said.
"The Smith girls played really well all day, and Morgan Rauch, another of my seniors, went three sets and played her heart out for almost three hours straight."
The girls are also missing teammate Amanda Helmbrecht, who was lost for the season with an injury several weeks ago, but freshman Amanda Kavan has stepped into a varsity singles role with impressive results.
"Amanda has tremendous potential, and its going to be fun to see her grow playing here for four years," Maloy said.
As a team, Storm Lake's season has ended at 2-8, but key players will go on to Regionals in individual play, with their hopes alive to compete for State.
They play Thursday in Spencer, with winners and runners-up to advance.
The lineup has not yet been announced. Players cannot compete in both singles and doubles, so coaches must make some difficult decisions about which format their athletes have the best chance in.
If the Smiths were placed in singles, for example, there is a chance they would face each other late in the action. But if they were placed in doubles, and coaches of the best singles players in the region decided to move their athletes into doubles, it could cut into their chances for State.