The Del Norte tennis team dropped a close 4-3 match in McKinleyville on Tuesday as the Panthers’ power at the top of its lineup proved too much to overcome in a shortened format.

Del Norte head coach Sara Sampels said the teams decided to play the smaller 4-3 (four singles matches and three doubles matches) format rather than the usual 6-3 tennis match due to time and court restrictions. Three of the top four singles matches went the full four sets, and McKinleyville only had three courts available to play on.

Del Norte’s No. 1 player, Jasmine Pearson, lost her singles match against the defending league champion and undefeated Jen Jolin 6-0, 6-1. The other three matches were all tightly contested, but McKinleyville edged out wins in two of the three matches.

“I thought everyone played well in singles,” Sampels said. “McKinleyville is a great team, and there wasn’t anything bad about our showing, they just ended up edging us out in split sets.”

Emily Feeney pulled out a win for the Warriors in the No. 3 singles match 6-4, 6-7 (4), 6-0.

Danika Scott lost 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 in the No. 2 match and Aliyah Rafalowski fell 6-4, 4-6, 3-6 in No. 4 singles.

Trailing 3-1 after singles the Warriors needed a sweep in doubles play to take the match, but Del Norte fell just a little short.

Feeney and Rafalowski dominated the No. 2 doubles match 8-1, and Lauren Galea and Liz Ward picked up an 8-3 win in the No. 3 doubles match.

Del Norte’s No. 1 doubles team, facing the only team that has beaten them this season, pushed the Panthers in the match before falling 8-6.

“All three doubles teams played fantastically — even the No. 1 team. Jen Jolin from McKinleyville is the No. 1 player in the league, and I think she is undefeated this year,” Sampels said. “If she ends up winning the league championship, she won’t be able to play in doubles. So I am very hopeful that all three of our doubles teams will be doing really well when we get to the league championships in a couple weeks.”

After struggling a little bit in doubles play early in the season, Sampels said she has been pleased with the level of play from the Warriors in recent matches.

“The girls enjoy playing with each other — they seem to enjoy doubles more than singles,” she said. “They just talk with each other, and I’ve coached them to cheer each other on and let them know that they have a partner on the court. They have also been working a lot on their movement in doubles.”

The Del Norte tennis team will be back in action on Saturday, taking on Eureka on the road starting at 10 a.m.

Reach Michael Zogg at mzogg@triplicate.com .

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