By Will Petersen
For the Courier
CONIFER — Katherine Hardy didn’t want to play a third set. Up in sets 1-0, but facing double set point in a tiebreak of the second set, it looked like she might have to.
Hardy, though, survived the two set points and came back to win the tiebreak 9-7, securing her match 6-2, 7-6 over Conifer’s Kirstin Hafeman in the No. 1 singles battle. The win helped propel the Lady Cougars to the team victory over host Conifer by a score of 6-1 on April 4.
“It was stressful toward the end. I just thought if I can hit one more ball than her it’ll be fine. Just always get the ball back to your opponent,” Hardy said.
The singles matches were a clean sweep for the Lady Cougars, winning each in two sets. Senior Morgan Nielsen found herself down 3-1 in the second set of the No. 3 singles match before reeling off five straight games to win her match 6-0, 6-3 over Conifer’s Savannah Talbot.
“Coming back and winning that was something I was happy with. I just stayed focused and played my game, not hers,” Nielsen said.
The Lobos were able to get on the board with a win at the No. 3 doubles spot. Kerstin Schiessler and Madeline Yerks beat Evergreen’s Kelli Keegan and Sammi Sexton 6-2, 6-4.
Conifer (3-1, 2-1 4A Jeffco League) came into the match undefeated, but head coach Dennis Knopf knew Evergreen would be the team’s best test of the young season.
“This helped us know where we’re at. Up until now we didn’t really know how good we were because we haven’t played really tough competition,” Knopf said.
The Lady Lobos had won all three of their previous matches by a score of 7-0.
Evergreen improved to 3-1 with the win, and 3-0 in league play, good for first place in the 4A Jefferson County standings. Second-year co-coach Kris Nielsen is pleased to see the program on the rise.
“Definitely trying to step it up. In the past they’ve had a very laid-back program with not a whole lot of instruction. We’re trying to raise the bar to get a higher expectation out of the players,” Kris Nielsen said.
Evergreen’s players echoed their coach’s sentiment.
“They’ve definitely upped their game. The coaches are a lot more serious, and they expect more out of us. We take high school tennis a lot more seriously than we used to,” Hardy said.
“Years previous, tennis wasn’t half as serious and we were all not in as good of shape as we are now. Expect Evergreen tennis to be in the news more often,” Morgan Nielsen said.