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River Queens claim MAC girls tennis title
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River Queens claim MAC girls tennis title

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The Clinton High School girls tennis team practices tiebreakers frequently.

"We try and create pressure situations for our kids so they handle it better when they're actually in the pressure situation," Clinton coach Cindy Rasche said.

The River Kings were in pressure situations on multiple occasions Tuesday afternoon in the final round of the Mississippi Athletic Conference tournament.

And they thrived every single time.

Twice in singles and twice in doubles, Clinton pulled out super tiebreakers en route to capturing its first league tournament title in eight years at Bettendorf High School's courts.

"We had really good mental focus today," sophomore Anna Current said. "We were able to keep a good mindset and have fun while we were playing."

Clinton finished with 21.5 points, 4.5 clear of runner-up Pleasant Valley. Bettendorf was third at 15.5 and Assumption finished fourth at 10.5.

The River Queens snapped the Spartans' six-year title run.

"God has blessed us over and over again for 40 years," said Rasche, whose program has finished in the top three every year during that span. "To get No. 1 again, it always feels good.

"This is something this group has deserved. It is great when you work hard and then get rewarded."

Clinton overcame adversity along the way.

Senior Emily Manemann went down with an injury during her No. 2 doubles final in the second set. She couldn't continue.

Besides defaulting that match, Manemann also couldn't go in the No. 5 singles final.

Others picked up the slack for the River Queens.

Abby Struble and Current rallied for a 3-6, 7-5, 1-0 (10-5) win over the top seed from Bettendorf in the No. 1 doubles final.

Kallyn Keefer and Jayden Kissack teamed for a 6-0, 2-6, 1-0 (11-9) victory at No. 3 doubles.

"When we heard about (Emily), we knew we needed to dig deep and pull one out for the team," Current said. "After last season got canceled, we knew we really wanted it today."

Current, Keefer and Kissack won singles titles at Nos. 3, 4 and 6, respectively.

Keefer and Kissack both dropped the first sets but rallied to win in a super tiebreaker.

"It shows as a team we can come back if we're struggling," Keefer said. "We have teammates to support us from outside the court that lift our spirits up.

"When we get into those tiebreak situations, we've all been taught by our great coaches to calm ourselves down and get through it. We were able to win them today."

Clinton, undefeated in conference duals this season, prepares for postseason play. It will travel to Bettendorf for individual regionals next Wednesday and has its sights set on a deep run in the team competition.

"The goal is to be top eight in the state," Rasche said. "The way they're playing, that should get accomplished."

Pleasant Valley freshman Lauren Masengarb took the championship at the No. 1 singles flight. She outlasted Bettendorf's Amanda Porubcin, 6-1, 7-6 (7-3).

Masengarb was sharp in the opening set and warded off Porubcin's comeback attempt in the second.

"I didn't want to let up in the second set," Masengarb said. "I was just exhausted, but I wanted it so bad. I wanted the title of being champion.

"It is awesome to get that."

Masengarb dabbled with multiple sports at a young age.

"Tennis was the one that stuck," she said. "It is just an amazing sport with the strategy, skill and power involved. I just love playing it."

Bettendorf's Elizabeth Alves rolled through the No. 2 singles bracket. The junior dropped only three games in three matches and punctuated the title with a 6-0, 6-0 win in the finals over PV's Kavya Kalathur.

"I'm really pleased with my performance," Alves said.

Alves was particularly ready after stumbling in the No. 1 doubles final.

"I was really eager to win in singles," she said.

PV's Shravani Inampudi claimed the fifth flight of singles. Bettendorf's Sydney Stout and Grace Moore teamed for the title at No. 2 doubles.

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