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Daily Journal
     September 24, 2020      #72-268 KDJ

GIRLS TENNIS: McNamara's depth leads to victory

Cody Smith

KANKAKEE — Heading into its dual match against Kankakee at Cobb Park, Bishop McNamara girls tennis coach Austin Earsley expected a competitive match, given how much improvement he has seen from the Kays this season.

“We were looking to just stay focused,” Earsley said. “We have been in some pretty tough conference play this year, and so we anticipated some tough competition from Kankakee again. It looked like they got even better from last year.”

Even with Kankakee’s increased talent, the Irish proved to be too much to handle for the Kays, winning the match in a clean sweep, 5-0, to improve to 4-1 on the season.

Bishop McNamara got things started with two doubles wins in straight sets, thanks to No. 3 doubles partners Emma McCammon and Riley Jones and the No. 2 doubles pairing of Lizzie Salerno and Mackenzie McCammon. The last doubles match concluded with Jessica Vickery and Amelia Conroy defeating Kamise Smith and Samantha Alvarez, of Kankakee, 6-4,6-2, at the No. 1 spot in the longest match of the day.

“I was really happy with the depth from our doubles teams,” Earsley said. “Our No. 2 and No. 3 doubles teams cleaned up really quickly and had extremely solid performances. It’s what we’ve seen all year from them.”

As for singles, No. 1 singles player Emma Gerth, of McNamara, showed she’s a force to be reckoned with. She took down Alejandra Cornejo in straight-sets 6-1, 6-1.

“I think I played well today with my serves, forehands and backhands,” Gerth said. “I put in a little bit more than I did yesterday.”

For Earsley, the best performance from the Irish on the evening came from Savana Smith in the No. 2 singles match against Gabby Dee. Smith beat Dee in straight-sets 6-2, 6-1 just like the rest of her squad.

“I’ve got to give it to second singles because of Savana Smith,” Earsley said. “Gabby got a lot better from last year, and her strokes looked really clean, but like we say all the time in tennis, it doesn’t matter what your strokes look like. Are you consistent? Can you hit the ball in? And can you move the ball around? And I think that’s what Savannah proved here today.”

Although the Irish (4-1) have looked really good in the win-loss column so far this season, Earsley noted his team still has plenty of work to do when it comes to things from the waist down.

“I think we need to work on footwork still,” Earsley said. “Some of our footwork today was good; we did a pretty good job hitting the ball early, so the mechanics above the waist were good, but footwork needs to improve with all of my singles and doubles still.”

As for the Kays, similar to any young team there is always going to be a learning curve. Being that Kankakee doesn’t have any seniors on its roster it’s no surprise head coach Tyler Prude just wants his team to find more consistency on the court.

“We are just trying to work on consistency right now,” Prude said. “In practice they were keeping the ball in play and hitting well, but when the match started it seemed like they kind of tensed up a little bit so we are just working on consistency right now.”

Both teams head to Bradley-Bourbonnais at 1 p.m. Wednesday for the 2020 All-City match

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