NEW ULM - Maya Sarkar's situation was characteristic of how things went for the New Ulm girls' tennis team on Tuesday against Blue Earth Area.
Sarkar played one of her best matches of the season against BEA's Annika Wilhelmi at No. 3 singles, but Wilhelmi's relentless returns and ability to mix up her shots gave her a 6-1, 6-2 victory over Sarkar.
Overall, the Buccaneers picked up a 7-0 sweep in the match-up, with none of the matches entering a third set.
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
New Ulm’s Maya Sarkar competes at number three singles during the Eagles’ match against Blue Earth Area Tuesday at NUHS.
"She had a lot of really good shots and didn't really make any errors with the shots," Sarkar said of Wilhelmi. "I think I played pretty well today though, I think today was one of my better games."
Sarkar and Wilhelmi were on serve through the first two games of their match, but Wilhelmi earned a break in Sarkar's second service game to take a 3-1 lead.
Sarkar fought back from 30-0 down to send the fifth game to deuce. However, a mixture of luck - Wilhelmi had a shot hit the tape at the top of the net and topple gently over to Sarkar's side, one of four times Wilhelmi had the exact same thing happen in the match - and well-placed shots gave Wilhelmi a crucial 4-1 lead, after which she was able to close out the set, dropping only a single point the rest of the way.
Wilhelmi seemed on pace to easily take the second set after pulling ahead 4-0, but Sarkar halted her momentum by taking the next game without dropping a point and then surviving a long deuce in the following game to cut Wilhelmi's lead to 4-2.
However, Wilhelmi swept the next two games to seal the match.
Sarkar's particular strength during the match was her ability to go up to the net. She also did a good job keeping rallies alive when Wilhelmi's shots forced her to run all over the court, but in the end Wilhelmi was able to so accurately place the ball in the corners and play cut shots that died just over the net that Sarkar's efforts weren't enough.
"She had really good aiming, and I guess I just have to work on that," Sarkar said.
At No. 1 singles, BEA's Karleigh Wolff defeated Laura Albrecht 6-2, 6-1 and at No. 2 singles Lindsey Prokop topped New Ulm's Jennifer Martins by a score of 6-3, 6-0.
Miriam Jakel played a good match for the Eagles at No. 4 singles against Kaitlyn Olsen, but Olsen prevailed by a 6-0, 6-0 score.
"The most improved player that I saw today was Miriam Jakel at No. 4 singles," New Ulm head coach Kevin Maudal said. "She played a girl that I believe played either No. 1 or No. 2 in Mankato on Saturday, and she was playing the No. 4 singles today. The scores didn't show how well she played against her, and so I told her after the match that it's probably the best that she's played this year.
"[Miriam] had a good serve, she only had one double fault, and that was the last point of the match. Her serving's really coming around and so she did really well on that."
New Ulm's Hannah Jakel and Marissa Johnson provided some drama at No. 1 doubles against Natali Fellows and Karli Olsen, rallying after being swept in the first set to send the second set to a tiebreaker, but Jakel and Johnson ended up losing the match 6-0, 7-6 (7-2).
At No. 2 doubles New Ulm's Gracelyn Sarkar and Emma Vranich lost 6-2, 6-1 to Aeli Olson and Paige Darrington and at No. 3 doubles Buccaneers Rebekah Krussow and Adrien Wittlieff defeated Mattea Sievert and Sicily Trullinger 6-0, 6-0.
The Eagles will play at St. Peter on Thursday before entering a busy stretch of their schedule next week, in which they will play four matches.