The Mid Alaska Conference high school tennis season started on schedule Tuesday.
The rain which deluged the Interior last week was replaced by sunshine, a few clouds and tiny breeze.
It seemed Tuesday at the Dan Ramras Community Tennis Courts, where the Lathrop Malemutes and Monroe Catholic Rams met in a season opener, the only precipitation was in water bottles.
“It feels great,” Lathrop junior Jagan Nautiyal said of starting the regular season with good weather and dry courts.
“A lot of practices have been canceled because of the rain and it really sucks. It’s great to get out and to be able play some tennis,” added Nautiyal, who defeated Miles Fowler 6-4, 6-2 in the boys No. 2 singles match to help Lathrop to a 6-0 win in the dual meet.
The other season opener between the West Valley Wolfpack and North Pole Patriots was played later Tuesday at the North Pole High School courts.
The regular-season opener at the Ramras complex also offered the Malemutes and Rams players an early opportunity to work on techniques.
“Definitely my serves,” Nautiyal said. “There were a bunch of times where I was just not getting my serves over, and that’s mostly mental mistakes.
“I was just letting my brain lapse and hopefully, we’ll be able to fix that as the season progresses.”
History also repeated itself at the Ramras courts.
Lathrop junior Helen Wharton and Monroe sophomore Erin Hendricks played for the girls singles title at last year’s conference tournament there. Wharton won the match and both players advanced to the state tournament at the Alaska Club East in Anchorage.
“I learned a lot from state,” Hendricks said Tuesday, “that it’s very important to place the ball where you want it, which I need to work on.
“Pretty much always have a good attitude on the court, and if you’re doing bad, don’t show it. Or if you feel bad, don’t show it.”
On Tuesday, Wharton rallied for 6-3, 6-2 victory after Hendricks had seized a 3-0 lead in the first set.
“I was missing a lot and I was being really aggressive. I don’t know, I was just kind of struggling a little bit,” Wharton said of her efforts early in the match.
Some words from Malemutes head coach Brett Carlson after the first set helped her.
“Coach Brett told me some stuff and I just got better,” Wharton said. “I just starting hitting through the ball more.
“I wasn’t making good shots but I focused on getting the ball in more.”
It was Hendricks’ second match Tuesday, as she and Fowler were coming off a 4-6, 6-3, 10-4 loss to Lathrop’s mixed doubles of Ashley Plys and Fletcher Burnett.
“I thought it was a good starting point to figure out where I was and where I can improve throughout the season,” Hendricks said of the mixed doubles contest. “They were both hard competitors and we played hard.”
Lathrop’s Luke Millam, last year’s MAC boys singles champion, won 6-2, 6-0 over Oliver Pender in the boys No. 1 singles match Tuesday.
Millam and Zach Plys also combined for a 6-0, 6-2 win over Oscar Oravec and Bryan Coty in the boys doubles match. Lathrop’s Ashley Plys won the girls No. 2 singles match by default.
Both teams defaulted for girls doubles.
West Valley — North Pole
Fin Ludwigg and Eli Ludwigg defeated North Pole’s boys doubles of Aaron Zeisel and Joel Deham 6-3, 6-1, helping visiting West Valley win 5-2 in the season-opening dual meet.
The Wolfpack’s Axton Siekman downed the Patriots’ Caleb Roehrig 6-0, 6-0 in the boys No. 2 singles match. West Valley teammate Klara Kondrak won in straight sets, 6-0, 6-0, over Grace Sidorski in the girls No. 1 singles duel.
West Valley’s girls doubles of Jordan Dick and Morgan Eli won 6-0, 6-1 over Paige Stapp and Nichole Knudson. The Wolfpack also took the mixed doubles, as Sam Stark and Aiden Payan prevailed 6-1, 6-4 over Amber Stewart and Wilson Wade.
The Patriots’ Sarah Beaver emerged with a 7-5, 6-2 decision over Raeghan Dick in the girls No. 2 singles match. North Pole’s Luke Roehrig took the No. 1 boys singles match with a 6-0, 6-0 decision over Kade Rowland.
Contact News-Miner sports editor Danny Martin at 459-7586. Follow him on Twitter:@newsminersports.