Girls tennis: Fairfield foursome headed to state

Fairfield teammates Yana Gaskell, Anatta Charoenkul, Destiny Gridley and Tess Paton punched their tickets to the Class 1A Iowa High School girls state tennis tournament on Wednesday at the regional singles and doubles tournament in Fairfield. Gaskell and Charoenkul will return to compete in the state singles tournament after battling for the state title last year while Paton and Gridley qualified for the first time to compete in state doubles tournament competition.

FAIRFIELD — Was there anything that could possibly trump the much-anticipated postseason rematch between Fairfield tennis teammates Yana Gaskell and Anatta Charoenkul?

How about the surprising run of two more Trojan teammates into the state doubles tournament?

Before Gaskell and Charoenkul could take center stage for the second straight year in the singles final of the Class 1A regional tennis tournament, the two had time to watch and celebrate with Destiny Gridley and Tess Paton. Fairfield's No. 3 doubles team, made up of the No. 5 and 6 singles players, scored three impressive wins including a 6-4, 6-0 upset of second-seeded Burlington-Notre Dame duo McKenzie Fry and Bethany Shane in the quarterfinals before earning a 6-4, 7-6 (7-4) victory over Keokuk teammates Keleigh Hall and Emma Evans.

Just like that, Fairfield had four state tennis qualifiers. With a win over Davis County on Friday, the Trojans (11-0 in duals) can achieve state berths in singles, doubles and team tournament play, keeping the vaunted "triple crown" state championship achievement alive.

"I certainly did not expect our No. 3 doubles team to make it to state, but it was awesome," Fairfield head girls tennis coach Heidi Grunwald said. "They played very well. They were moving like I haven't seen them move before. I was really impressed by them."

While it would take a lot of work to achieve the triple crown of state titles in singles, doubles and as a team, the Trojans as close as any area tennis team since the Fairfield Maharishi boys two seasons earlier. It's a possibility that has Grunwald in a jovial mode.

"It'd be pretty cool to qualify for state in all three tournaments. Some one ought to pay me some money for that," Grunwald joked. "That'd be pretty cool to win all three."

After celebrating with Gridley and Paton, Gaskell and Charoenkul stepped back on the court for the third postseason meeting in two years. The teammates that battled for the regional and state singles titles last year battled into a second-set tiebreaker on Wednesday with Gaskell sweeping Charoenkul 6-0 and 7-6 (7-2).

"I actually felt pretty relaxed. With both of us qualifying for state, there wasn't much consequence other than determining who would be the No. 1 and 2 seeds in the state singles tournament," Gaskell said. "It was a relaxed, but super-competitive match."

While Gaskell played relaxed, Charoenkul admitted to playing with nerves at the start of the regional final, playing a large part in the 6-0 opening-set result.

"I knew Yana was playing extremely well, so I had it in my head that I had to be prepared for this," Charoenkul said. "I went out there and she completely blew me away. In the second set, I just told myself to relax. We're both good players who are both out here to have fun."

For Gridley and Paton, qualifying for state was the furthest thing from the minds of either player. Getting through the first match was tough enough as the first-year varsity teammates moved past Mount Pleasant's Shaleen Thiengmany and Breeana Runyon 6-3 and 7-5.

"Our goal coming in was to play as hard as we could in the first-round match," Paton said. "We just figured we'd give it our best shot. We'll play and try our best. To get as far as we did was incredible."

The incredible truly happened later Wednesday morning as Paton and Gridley faced Fry and Shane, the team expected by seeding to challenge top-seeded Davenport Assumption teammates Lauren Dilulio and Caroline Bush in the regional doubles final. After earning a surprising 6-4 win in the opening-set, Paton and Gridley poured it on in the second set and shut out the Nikes to move within one win of qualifying for state.

"After we won that match, that really built our confidence up," Gridley said. "We weren't expected to win that match, either. Winning that second set, 6-0, we started to realize that we'd made it this far. We might as finish it.

"We just told each other to keep going," Paton added.

Upsets really opened the door on the bottom half of the bracket for Paton and Gridley with third-seeded Fort Madison duo Larissa Ferrill and Lanie Kurtz bowing out in the first round. The same could not be said on the top half of the doubles bracket, where Davis County teammates Isabella Tranquillo and Abby Vaughn fell one win short of qualifying for state losing 6-1, 6-1 to Dilulio and Bush, the eventual regional doubles champions.

"This was one of our best days playing together. We played really well in the first round, we were focused in and we continued to be focused in during the second round," Vaughn said. "When we got to the Davenport Assumption match, we really didn't know what to expect. We knew they were a good team that comes from a good program. We just went for it.

"We're disappointed we lost, but I'm really proud of how we played. This whole tournament was a lot of fun."

Tranquillo and Vaughn will return to Fairfield with the rest of their Davis County teammates after finishing third on Wednesday in regional doubles, rallying for a three-set win over Hall and Evans in the consolation final. The Mustangs will look to prevent the Trojans from advancing to the first round of state team tennis for the second straight year Friday in Fairfield at 9 a.m.

"We'll have to play about perfect on Friday. It's going to take an entire team effort," Davis County head girls tennis coach Brian Skaggs said. "Everybody is going to have to bring it to give us a chance to compete with (Fairfield)."

Scott Jackson can be reached at sjackson@ottumwacourier.com. Follow him on Twitter@CourierScott.

GIRLS TENNIS

Class 1A Regional Singles and Doubles Tournament

At Fairfield Middle School Tennis Courts

Wednesday

SINGLES

First Round

Yana Gaskell, Fairfield, def. Frankie Taylor, Burlington-Notre Dame, 6-0, 6-0.

Ellie Molyneaux, Davenport Assumption, def. Jasmine Saunders, Keokuk, 6-1, 6-0.

Alysa Schmidt, Fort Madison, def. Hailey Swan, Davis County, 6-3, 6-1.

Olivia Goodale, Fairfield Maharishi, def. Olivia Larson, Mount Pleasant, 6-3, 6-3.

Julia Thomas, Davenport Assumption, def. Julia de Gala, Keokuk, 6-0, 6-0.

Sierra Barton, Mount Pleasant, def. Cortney Erickson, Burlington-Notre Dame, 6-4, 6-4.

Morgan Klaus, Davis County, def. Lily Fenton, Fairfield Maharishi, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.

Anatta Charoenkul, Fairfield, def. Lily Cadwallader, Fort Madison, 6-0, 6-0.

Quarterfinals

Gaskell def. Molyneaux, 6-0, 6-0.

Goodale def. Schmidt, 6-1, 6-2.

Thomas def. Barton, 6-2, 6-0.

Charoenkul def. Klaus, 6-0, 6-0.

Semifinals

Gaskell def. Goodale, 6-0, 6-0.

Charoenkul def. Thomasm 6-1, 6-0.

Third Place

Thomas def. Goodale, 6-3, 6-0.

Championship

Gaskell def. Charoenkul, 6-0, 7-6 (2).

DOUBLES

First Round

Lauren Dilulio and Caroline Bush, Davenport Assumption, def. Joleen Kelly and Benita Gautum, Burlington-Notre Dame, 6-0, 6-0.

Audrey Jestel and Faith Resnick, Davenport Assumption, def. Larissa Ferrill and Lanie Kurtz, Fort Madison, 6-2, 7-5.

McKenzie Fry and Bethany Shane, Burlington-Notre Dame, def. Bailea Yahnke and Avery Thompson, Davis County, 7-5, 7-6 (2).

Isabella Tranquillo and Abby Vaughn, Davis County, def. Zoe Ramatowski and Kirklynn Nafziger, Fort Madison, 6-0, 6-4.

Erin Zihlman and Hallie Sandeen, Mount Pleasant, def. Yenet Deribe and Deepika Vempati, Fairfield Maharishi, 6-2, 6-1.

Tess Paton and Destiny Gridley, Fairfield, def. Shaleen Thiengmany and Breeana Runyon, Mount Pleasant, 6-3, 7-5.

Keleigh Hall and Emma Evans, Keokuk, def. Vaisnavii Mohanraj and Shristi Sharma, Fairfield Maharishi, 6-1, 6-1.

Nellie Higdon and Abby Schaefer, Fairfield, def. Kierra Huddleston and Delaynee Billings, Keokuk, 6-0, 6-0.

Quarterfinals

Dilulio and Bush def. Zihlman and Sandeen, 6-0, 6-4.

Vaughn and Tranquillo def. Higdon and Schaefer, 6-3, 6-1.

Hall and Evans def. Jestel and Resnick, 6-3, 6-1.

Paton and Gridley def. Fry and Shane, 6-4, 6-0.

Semifinals

Dilulio and Bush def. Vaughn and Tranquillo, 6-1, 6-1.

Paton and Gridley def. Hall and Evans, 6-4, 7-6 (4).

Third Place

Vaughn and Tranquillo def. Hall and Evans 6-7 (5), 6-4, 1-0 (10-2).

Championship

Dilulio and Bush def. Paton and Gridley, 6-1, 6-1.

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