More often than not, the No. 1 singles matches are the first in the lineup to finish in a high school match.
At the highest level, the difference between players is magnified, leading to quick matches even between strong opponents.
Monday’s rivalry match between Holland Christian’s Hope Rhoades and Holland’s Libby LeFebre was the last to finish – by far.
The back-and-forth match was one of the closest No. 1 singles matches among area teams in years. Rhoades used a couple key shots and key service breaks to hold off LeFebre 7-5, 6-4 and lead the Maroons to an 7-1 win at Holland Christian.
Rhoades is the third sibling in her family to play No. 1 singles for the Maroons and was the top player last year, using that experience to her advantage.
“With Hope’s leadership, she just stayed calm and focused on the ball. It was all about who could keep it in play longer, ”Holland Christian coach Lynn Bender said. “It was the last match on the court with everyone watching. It is about calming the nerves and focusing on you and the ball. Her smooth and steady groundstrokes by lei paid off in the big moments. “
One of the biggest moments was early in the second set.
After winning the first set, Rhoades, who has committed to play at Hope College next year, dropped the first game of the second as LeFebre broke her serve. But Rhoades broke right back, rocketing a crosscourt winner on game point that painted the line and evened the set.
“I just tried to play my game,” Rhoades said. “It definitely gives me lots of confidence seeing that I can do that (rip one down the line in a big moment). It boosted my energy and made me want to win even more. “
Another key moment came when Rhodes was up 3-2 in the second set, facing a game point. But Rhoades rallied to win the game on a stellar passing shot and she led 4-2 instead of being tied 3-3.
“I definitely tried to just breathe and pretend it is 0-0. When I get down, I struggle coming back up and get in my head, ”she said. “I was able to stay calm and that gave me confidence. My coaches have always told me to take a deep breath, play with my strings and go to the next point. That is how I do things now. “
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LeFebre played extremely well, just a handful of points from turning the tide. She broke Rhoades’ serve to pull within 5-4 but Rhoades again broke back to finish off the match.
“Libby knows me and knows my strengths and weaknesses. I like to run people around the court, but she is fast and athletic. She is good at the net and she knows I am not the best at the net, ”Rhoades said.
In other action, Holland Christian’s Bria Lampen defeated Lizzi Munster 6-2, 6-4 at No. 2 singles. At No. 3 singles, Holland Christian’s Eva VanKlompenberg topped Holland’s Abby Sanchez 6-2, 6-1.
Holland’s Melania Rocha defeated Holland Christian’s Jenna Grotenhuis 6-4, 6-0 at No. 4 singles.
In doubles, Holland Christian’s Lilly DeVries-Ainsley VandenBrink defeated Cora VanFassen-Ava Wall 6-1, 6-1 at No. 1.
Holland Christian’s Kayla VandenBerg-Monika Diaz defeated Holland’s Emma Hulst-Natalie Legg 6-2, 6-3 at No. 2 doubles.
At No. 3 doubles, Holland Christian’s Larissa Bol-Esmay Klingenberg topped Holland’s Claudia Kurniawan-Lena Vanderbilt Mancinelli 6-0, 6-3.
Holland Christian’s Abi Kraal-Nicole Genzink beat Hollands Haliegh Souder-Nicole Souder 6-1, 6-0 at No. 4.
– Contact Sports Editor Dan D’Addona at Dan.D’Addona@hollandsentinel.com. Follow him on Twitter @DanDAddona and Facebook @Holland Sentinel Sports.