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Kiefer at No. 2 singles

IPFW senior Cateriina Kiefer plays at No. 2 singles during Saturday's Summit League tournament at IPFW. The Mastodons won 4-3 and will play in the NCAA tournament.

Summit League women’s tennis

Victory in last match puts IPFW in NCAA

– Even though she was schooled at home in Anderson, Marcy Huck nevertheless was ready to attend IPFW. What she wasn’t ready for was the intense pressure she felt in the championship round of the Summit League tournament on Saturday at IPFW.

With all matches completed except hers at No. 6 singles, and the Mastodons in a dramatic tie with UMKC with a berth in the NCAA tournament at stake, the sophomore dug in, dug down and claimed a 6-2 final-set victory to give the Mastodons a 4-3 victory over the Kangaroos on Saturday at the IPFW courts.

Huck, who won her first set 6-3, then lost a 6-7 second-set tiebreaker, roared back to defeat UMKC sophomore Amelie Amsallem to give IPFW its third Summit League tournament title in four years.

The Mastodons (23-7) will have to wait until Tuesday’s draw to see who they’ll face in the NCAA tournament.

IPFW had claimed the day’s first point when it won at doubles. Anita Henestrosa and Caterina Kiefer, at No. 1, quickly won 8-3, and not far behind was the No. 2 team of Theresa Neumeyr and Mila Shustova.

But the Kangaroos, whose only Summit League loss this season was 4-0 to IPFW, came out strong in the singles, including at No. 1, where Laura Bouet beat the league’s player of the year, Henestrosa.

Singles points from Kiefer and Shustova put the Mastodons one away from the Summit League title. And with Huck’s match the only one still being played, the season’s future was up to the sophomore.

“I never played high school tennis, so I never had that cheering crowd on the outside and the head games being yelled at me from the opponents’ side,” Huck said. “That was nerve-racking, so I tried to keep that out of my head.

“I was just so tired, and I kept thinking about the ring and how my team was supporting me and how I wanted to get it for them and for myself. I just pushed through every point. Half the time I was so tired and out of it. I just kept hitting ball after ball. Without (assistant) Brett (Barnett) and (head coach) Eric Burns and (assistant) Mark (Recht), I could have not done it.”

And after losing the second set, she didn’t think she could.

“I was so upset,” Huck said. “I sat down and didn’t think I could do it. I told Brett, ‘don’t think I can do this.’ And he said, ‘Yeah, you can.’ He helped me through it all.”

Burns was particularly impressed with the sophomore who had never been in this kind of pressure cooker before.

“Marcy is someone who, throughout her career, kind of struggled in tight situations, closing out matches and coming through,” Burns said. “(Saturday), she grew up a lot. She was poised, and just a mature player out on the court in dealing with those pressure situations. I couldn’t be prouder of her. I feel like she grew up a lot today out there.”

stwarden@jg.net

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