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Dial falls in sectional singles match

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Sikeston's Kelsey Dial reaches out for a forehand in the second set against Lutheran South's Jessica Rakers in a Class 1 sectional singles match on Tuesday at the Sikeston High School tennis courts. David Jenkins, Staff
SIKESTON -- For over two hours Tuesday afternoon, Sikeston's Kelsey Dial and Lutheran South's Jessica Rakers played each other shot for shot in numerous long rallies, but as sunlight faded, so did Dial's season, as the junior fell 6-4, 7-5 in a Class 1 sectional.

The first point of the match was a sign of what was to come as the pair rallied back-and-forth from the baseline for over three minutes before the point was won by Rakers. The long rallies continued early in the first set as the two appeared to be feeling out their opponent.

"I'd say the first four games of the first set they were just playing baseline to baseline, feeling each other out," said Sikeston coach Russ Dial. "I would say both of them were a little tight. After about the fourth game (Rakers) started playing aggressive, hitting the open spaces and approaching the net on all the midcourt shots and that's how she won the first set."

Dial held an early 3-1 lead in the first set and was serving when Rackers began to mix in aggressive play with passive baseline play. Rackers would hit high lobs deep to the baseline several times in-a-row before picking up the pace and approaching the net, catching Dial off balance.

"She would hit so many lobs and then would pull a real fast one out and it was (surprising)," said Kelsey Dial. "The different pace caught me off guard."

Rackers used this approach and won five of the next six games to take the first set.

The second set began like the first ended as Rackers seemed to be in control with 4-1 lead, using a drop shot more frequently that seemed to cause Dial trouble.

"(The drop shots) had a lot of spin on them, so instead of bouncing like they usually do when I can get to them, these would spin back," Kelsey Dial said. "It made it impossible to get it before the second bounce."

"She got to it a majority of the time but she put it right back to her instead of passing her or lobbing her," coach Dial said. "It was a good strategy on their part and those shots were giving her a lot of problems."

Trailing 4-1, Dial began to play a little more aggressive and rolled off four-straight games to take a 5-4 lead and even held a set point. But Rackers dug in and held her serve at 5-5 and then fought off three deuces to break Dial, taking a 6-5 lead.

Dial evened the next game up at deuce but two consecutive shots by the junior went wide after long rallies, ending her season.

"I really wanted it and but wanting it messed me up," said Kelsey Dial. "I was too focused on getting the shot than just playing."

Dial finishes the season with a record of 13-6, including a district title. Dial's only losses to Class 1 competition came to Rackers and Dexter's Jessica Snider, who also lost her sectional on Tuesday to a Lutheran South opponent.

"(Kelsey) started off slow at the beginning of the season and then she caught fire," said coach Dial. "She had a great season but if she's going to get to the next level she's going to have to be more aggressive. Once you get out of the district you have to play a little more aggressive."

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