Only one Class 1A girls’ tennis player wins her final match of the season and with it claims a state championship. In 2003, that player was Clarinda senior Kristin Kovar.
Kovar posted a straight set victory over Amy Pierson of Red Oak in the finals of the state singles tournament in Fort Dodge to become the first girls’ state tennis champion in the history of Clarinda High School. Kovar finished her senior season with a record of 22-1.
That lone loss came against Pierson in regional team play. However, Kovar had defeated her Hawkeye 10 Conference rival in dual competition, at the conference tournament and in the regional singles tournament.
During the state tournament Kovar posted a 4-0 record as she won each of those matches in straight sets. She entered the state tournament as the second seeded player in the field.
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Please enjoy this account of the girls’ 2003 Class 1A state tennis tournament taken from the archives of the Clarinda Herald-Journal.
Clarinda senior Kristin Kovar concluded her high school tennis career by winning her final match to capture the 1A state singles championship.
The girls’ state tennis tournament was played Thursday and Friday, June 5-6, in Cedar Rapids. Kovar entered the tournament as the number two seeded singles player and breezed through the competition with relative ease as she won all of her matches in straight sets.
“It was a great way to end things. I’m so excited and happy. I couldn’t ask for anything better,” Kovar explained.
With her victory, Kovar became the first ever girls’ state tennis champion from Clarinda.
Last season, Kovar qualified for the state tennis tournament and placed sixth for Clarinda.
In the finals on Friday, Kovar squared off against a familiar foe in Amy Pierson of Red Oak. Pierson, who entered the tournament unseeded, reached the finals by defeating top ranked Natalie Kolegraff of Spirit Lake - Okoboji 6-4, 3-6 and 6-4.
Earlier in the season Kovar had defeated Pierson in team dual competition, in the Hawkeye 10 Conference meet and in the regional singles tournament. However, Pierson defeated Kovar in their last regular season meeting during regional team play.
“I was a little nervous because it was the championship match and being my senior year I knew it was the last time. I was confident about knowing Amy and I knew how I had to play to win,” Kovar said.
The two Hawkeye 10 rivals locked up in a classic dual in the opening set of the championship match before Kovar won a tiebreaker to win the set 7-6.
“Knowing I had the first set really helped me. I knew she would have to work harder to win the match and I had the edge. I knew she would fight and I had to keep playing game, but it helped,” Kovar explained.
Riding the momentum of the opening set victory, Kovar secured her state championship by dispatching of Pierson in the second set 6-3.
Throughout the tournament Kovar felt the key to her success was her consistency and that held true on championship point.
“I knew when it was match point I didn’t want to go to duce, so I kept telling myself to be consistent and keep it in play,” Kovar explained.
Kovar opened the state tournament on Thursday by defeating Ellen Goerrs of Spirit Lake - Okoboji 6-3 and 6-3 in her first round match.
Then, in the quarterfinals on Thursday, Kovar stopped Kim LaRue of Decorah 6-0 and 6-1.
On Friday, Kovar faced Chelsie Luhring of Grundy Center in her semifinal match. Kovar won the thrilling penning set 7-5 and then closed out the victory by winning the second set 6-1.
By winning the state championship, Kovar ended her senior season with an overall record of 22-1 in singles play including winning championships at the Atlantic Invitational, the Hawkeye 10 Conference tournament and the regional tournament.
Kovar will be attending Central College at Pella next fall and will play tennis in college.
“I would like to thank my coach and my teammates for all of their support during the year,” Kovar concluded.