Midway through the Badger West Conference tournament, Oregon senior Elena Behdad couldn't believe she was playing No. 2 singles.
Most of the season she played No. 3 singles for the Panthers, but stepped up and went 3-0 to win a conference title at No. 2 singles on Saturday, Sept. 25, at Baraboo High School.
Behdad defeated Portage’s Riley Wood 6-0, 6-3 in the championship match. She had a tough path to get to the title match. She won two three-set matches on her journey. Behdad opened the conference tournament with a 5-7, 6-0, 10-6 win over Baraboo’s Alice Davies. She then defeated Madison Edgewood’s Lucy Herlitzka 2-6, 6-4, 11-6. After losing sets in the first round and in the semifinal matches, Behdad found a way to bounce back.
“Nothing frustrates her,” Oregon coach Joan Mohr said. “She's even-keeled. She just goes out and figures out her opponent and what kinds of shots she has to hit.”
Oregon sophomore Ella Peotter took third at No. 1 singles. The Panthers finished fifth with five points out of seven teams. Edgewood captured the conference team title 14-12 over Sauk Prairie.
Peotter rebounded to knock off Baraboo’s Maggie Clary 6-1, 6-1 in a third-place match.
“The girl from Baraboo had a lot of power on her serve and forehand,” Mohr said
“I always tell my team tennis is a mental game and if you let it get to you then you are done. Power doesn’t win you matches. Placement does.”
Peotter also defeated Portage’s Izzy Krueger 6-0, 6-0 in a first-round match. She then lost to Edgewood’s Lilly Olson 6-0, 6-2.
At No. 3 singles, the Panthers’ Anna Johnson lost to Baraboo’s Emily Finnegan 7-6 (9), 6-4. Oregon’s Anna Martin at No. 4 singles lost to Sauk Prairie’s Emilia Pape in three sets 7-6 (6), 4-6, 10-6.
“She played her heart out,” Mohr said of Martin. “I thought she played really well and it could have gone either way.”
Each of the Panthers’ doubles teams lost in the first round. Oregon senior Ella Wirtz and junior Stephanie Lo at No. 1 doubles lost to Reedsbuirg’s Emily Wood and Sophie Tourdot 1-6, 6-4, 10-7.
The Panthers have used Lo and senior Emma Yeakley with Wirtz at No. 1 doubles throughout the season.
“We felt Ella and Stephanie would be a good combination and had a good opportunity because Stephanie hits with a lot of power,” Mohr said.
Reedsburg’s Yerly Rothwell and Ashely Crary defeated Oregon’s Kimberly Urban and Yeakley at No. 2 doubles 7-5, 6-2. At No. 3 doubles, Baraboo’s Eryn Benson and Adrienne Crubel defeated Oregon’s Kristelle Sommers and Katherine Stoneman 6-0, 6-2.
Oregon will compete in the WIAA Division 1 Stoughton subsectional on Monday, Oct. 4.
“It’s just a matter of getting experience,” Mohr said. “Hopefully, they have learned from this and will get better.”