The ball bounced Osage’s way Monday night.
The Indians took a short trip down Highway 54 to take on their neighbor Camdenton in the annual battle for lake area bragging rights and the bragging rights belonged to the visitors this year as they topped the Lakers by a final score of 8-1.
Osage set the tone early, sweeping the doubles round 3-0 to ease some of the pressure of singles play and Coach Brandy Hutzler was pleased with the great start.
“Anytime you come to Camdenton you are excited for the challenge so we got right in and we ended up winning,” the coach said. “They (Osage) have improved their doubles play. Getting to know each other, the chemistry, cross court and keeping away from the net... if we can get those two or three points, it eases people’s pressure going into singles.”
One Osage player who stayed calm and collected in the face of pressure was senior Maddie Amsinger who helped the Indians win a 9-8 tiebreaker (7-4) alongside teammate Lily Davis in the No. 3 doubles match. Then, she went on to win her singles match 8-6.
“One more point and it will be over with so just take it point by point,” Amsinger said of her mindset going into each match.
Amsinger started playing tennis competitively just a season ago, but has quickly risen through the Osage ranks from the No. 17 spot to varsity action at the No. 6 spot in 2017. Amsinger said it just required a little bit of hard work.
“Yeah I was really, really low,” the senior recalled of her former spot on the tennis team. “I just put in more work in the offseason because I was like, ‘Well, might as well do it.’ Then the teammates are really good and help a lot.
“They are so much fun and we are all so supportive of each other. It just makes it a blast and it is like we are all sisters,” she added.
Hutzler, for one, was not surprised to see the senior have success on Monday night.
“She always pulls through with a win and she is determined,” the coach said.
Turns out, there were plenty of other determined Indians on the court too. The duo of Eliza Koeppen and Elise Davis won the No. 1 doubles match 8-4 and the team of Kylie Misenheimer and Natalie Brick won the No. 2 doubles match 8-1. In singles play, Koeppen was an 8-2 winner, Misenheimer won her match 8-5, Elise earned an 8-0 sweep and Lily topped her Camdenton opponent 8-4.
Hutzler was pleased with her team’s concentration against a Camdenton team the coach described as beng really good at the net. The Indians were able to effectively strategize and earn points with good placement and Hutzler hopes to continue seeing that in the middle of a busy schedule.
“The girls know that you have to practice in the offseason and once tennis season starts, we just play nonstop,” she stated. “On Wednesdays we take our practices very seriously since we only get one practice a week.”
Camdenton’s Macie Abell was the lone winner for the Lakers Monday night as she defeated her Osage opponent 8-6 in singles play. Camdenton coach Kirk Richey said his team just simply did not stay in points long enough.
“I think we played pretty solid and I don’t have any problem with the effort. I just don’t think we stay in points long enough and it has been what we’ve done all year,” the coach noted. “Some of the girls midway through the lineup are not used to playing at the level they need to right now.
“In practice they may get three, four or five balls back, but when that fifth ball comes back they are not expecting it because by that time the point is usually over... We have to stay in more points, not make the mistake and put the pressure on the opponent. A quality opponent like Osage has had a lot of success and has played well so far, so they kind of exploited that,” he added.
Camdenton was without No. 1 player Coley Rezabek Monday night, who was playing golf for the Lakers, so others had to step into spots they are not very accustomed to playing at and Richey was glad to see players like Abell and Hannah Robinson fight back in doubles and Megan Bartels fight back in her matches as well. Still, with everybody essentially just moving up one spot, Richey was also quick to point out that there are no excuses either.
“There is no excuse on our end. It is too late in the season to have any excuses with that, so I just think it boils down to being patient enough to realize that we are late in the season and everybody is going to be able to get balls back to you,” he said. “You just have to be able to stay in those points and pick your spot to end the point when it needs to be ended.”
Overall, each match is a building block to Camdenton’s goal of playing well in tournaments and making some noise when the conference and district tournaments rolls around. Camdenton (2-4) took on Helias for senior night on Tuesday and up next is a trip to Jefferson City on Thursday at 4 p.m.
Meanwhile, Osage maintains its perfect 7-0 record in dual play after finishing second in its own doubles tournament over the weekend. The Indians hosted Lebanon on Tuesday and will host Richland on Thursday at 4:30 p.m. Amsinger said it was important for the team to stick with its method of operation.
“We are just going to have to really keep in focus, make sure that practices go well and just take it game by game,” she said.