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    Pioneers advance to first-ever state final four
    May 26, 2004
          MUSCATINE -- All those years of bowing out in the Class 1A regional tennis final seemed to make this year's victory that much more special.

          The Maharishi School girls' tennis team, which had been in the Elite Eight three straight seasons, finally got over the hump with a 5-3 win over Dubuque Wahlert Tuesday at Muscatine.

          The win marks the first time any Pioneers girls' athletic program has made a state tournament. Maharishi School (13-1) faces Spirit Lake/Okoboji in the first round of the tournament at Walker-Johnston Park in Urbandale June 5; Spirit Lake/Okoboji knocked off defending champion Decorah in a regional final Tuesday. The winner gets either Waterloo Columbus or Red Oak for the championship.

          But Eyre said she had a strong feeling this was the Pioneers'' season to make the final four.

          "It just felt like it was going to be our day this time," Pioneers coach Laurie Eyre said. "We scouted Wahlert and felt we had a chance, but that it wasn't going to be easy. Wahlert has a good girls' program."

          Wahlert, which competed in Class 2A last season, had a couple of top-notch victories under its belt heading into the regional final. The Golden Eagles had posted a 5-1 win over perennial power Camanche, then pulled out a 5-4 win over Cedar Rapids Xavier in the regional semifinals, avenging a regular-season loss to the Saints. Xavier ended the Pioneers' season last year in the regional final.

          "I think Wahlert might have thought it would be easier coming down a class," Eyre said. "They felt like they had it in the bag."

          They did; then they didn't.

          Wahlert took a 3-1 lead in singles play, and were gunning for a fourth win when Kara Klein had Melodia Morales on the ropes in the No. 2 singles match. After the opponents split the first two sets, Klein led 5-2 in the third set. Morales rallied to tie the match 6-6, then won 7-4 in the tiebreaker for a 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (7-4) victory. In the No. 6 singles match, Deborah Swartz and Wahlert's Alyssa Varner split their opening sets. Swartz won the third 6-4 and prevailed 7-5, 4-6, 6-4, turning the momentum in the Pioneers" favor.

          "Those two wins were huge," Eyre said. "There was a lot of pressure on them because they were the only two left playing in singles. The kids kept fighting and hung there. I'm proud of them for that."

          For a complete story, read Wednesday's Fairfield Ledger.

    İFairfield Daily Ledger Inc. 2004
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