The only way you might have guessed that Krissy Lankelma had been out of action was by the black brace tucked into her left tennis shoe.
The defending Class 2A state singles champion showed no signs of rust, or at least none that anyone else could see.
Lankelma rolled through her first competitive match since late January, highlighting the day for the Marshalltown girls' tennis team in an 8-3 loss to Ankeny on a windy Thursday at the MHS Tennis Courts.
T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE
Defending Class 2A state singles champion Krissy Lankelma makes a forehand return during doubles play in Thursday’s dual with Ankeny at the MHS courts.
Marshalltown's only state tennis champion in 36 years of the sport, Lankelma had a hand in two of the Bobcats' three wins. She swept through Ankeny's Laura Ruehl at No. 1 singles, 6-0, 6-2, in a matter of about 20 minutes, before teaming up with fellow senior Monica Hughes for a 6-3, 6-2 triumph at No. 1 doubles.
"It feels good, I'm a little bit rusty but I played pretty well tonight," said Lankelma. "I can't complain."
Thursday's non-conference dual was the make-up of Monday's rain-out, and it gave Lankelma a chance to recover from an illness. What's three more days after having waited three months to play because of a broken metatarsal in her left foot?
"I wasn't too upset it got rained out," Lankelma said. "I was really nervous, plus I can re-break (my foot) pretty easily so I have to be careful."
The Bobcats (3-2) finally settled into their lineup with Lankelma at the top of it, but it was not enough to thwart a deep Ankeny squad. The Hawks won five of the six singles matches and three of five doubles bouts to remain with only one dual loss (to CIML Iowa Conference powerhouse Ames) this season.
"We did have some battles in some places," said MHS head coach Bill Wilson. "Doubles seems to be our strongest suit, and that's where we had our closest matches. I'm happy with the way they battled tonight.
"It's a meet that could have been a little closer but it wasn't. We battled hard, but Ankeny was a better team tonight."
The closest of Marshalltown's five singles losses was senior Rachel Smoldt's 6-2, 6-4 defeat at No. 6 to Ankeny's Allie Renze. Smoldt turned around to contribute to the Bobcats' only other doubles win, teaming with classmate Allison Sherman for a 7-5, 6-4 victory in the No. 4 pairs spot.
"Rachel played a couple tough sets in singles and then came back in doubles and she hung right in there," said Wilson.
Sherman and Smoldt are a combined 5-3 in doubles this season, including a 4-1 mark in dual meet play.
The No. 2 Bobcat doubles team of Phoebe Ryan and Lizz Heying lost a nailbiter, 6-4, 7-5, while the No. 6 pairing of Ashley Swanson and Cassidy Miller made a late comeback in a 6-2, 7-6 (4) setback.
Marshalltown is slated to open CIML Iowa play at home today, hosting West Des Moines Valley at 4:15 p.m.