Female Area Athlete of the Week: Gall doesn’t drop a set in two matches against Aitkin
Gall keeps improving during her senior season
Val Gall feels the pressure that comes with being No. 1.
The Pierz senior captain was able to use that pressure as fuel to win two matches against Aitkin 6-0, 6-0 as the Pioneers defeated the Gobblers twice last week.
Gall is in her fourth year playing varsity tennis for Pierz and all of them have been playing singles. Last year, she earned All-Granite Ridge Conference honors as Pierz’s No. 1 singles player.
“Being No. 1 is like you’re the best,” Gall said. “Not the best, best, but you are No. 1 and they expect you to win. And you are playing their hardest person as well, so it’s a little bit stressful. My philosophy is to stay one point ahead. Or get the next one, that’s how it goes for me. I have to tell myself that if it’s going bad.”
Her strength last week was the groundstroke.
“The big thing I’ve seen out of her is her experience,” Pierz head coach Sandy Tautges said. “Her experience has taught her how to play the game and how to place the ball and what kind of shots to use.”
Gall mentioned in years prior she didn’t always like playing singles because she was playing alone.
“You don’t have a doubles person to help you if you are losing real bad, and you don’t know what to do,” Gall said. “This year my goal was to stay level headed and to try something different if I don’t know how to beat the other girl, even if it doesn’t work. Just staying positive.”
Gall does winter training and takes lessons with Jack Bowe at the Bowe Tennis Academy in St. Cloud which has resulted in steady improvement on the court.
“I did a lot of Bowe training and been doing a lot of move your feet drills in practice,” Gall said. “My groundstrokes are going really well and I move my feet a lot to get to the ball.”
Tautges noticed she became more aggressive with her serving after her winter lessons and training.
“When you are younger you are just trying to be more consistent,” Tautges said. “When you get older you try to put points away.”
What makes Gall fun to watch in Tautges’ eyes is her ability to move on the court and effectively use the drop shot.
“You spend more time with it the more comfortable you become with it,” Tautges said of her drop shot. “And that’s where she is at because she plays a lot of tennis.”
As captain, Gall said she learned from watching the captains before her on how to become a worthy leader.
“Just watching what they’ve done and learning what I know now, and also just stepping up like ‘hey, I’m this person now, I have to be like that,’” Gall said of being captain.
Some memories Gall has playing tennis include the game-winning 3-set matches she’s played in.
“It’s a 3-3 score and everyone is watching you, and if you lose you lose the whole game and if you win you win the whole game,” Gall said. “Also the bus rides with my team through the years are the most fun.”
Tautges has seen Gall become more comfortable as a leader.
“She’s become more comfortable because of the experience she has had with tennis,” Tautges said. “Whether it’s in warmups, whether it’s in proper behavior, especially with this COVID thing going on, just helping out with those types of roles with us.
“We expect her to be our leader on the court. Especially playing No. 1 singles. She’s going to have some matches where she is going to play some tough people, and I expect her to play as hard as when she plays an opponent she can dominate over.”
With the postseason unknown, the hope for Gall is to continue her consistent play.
“We don’t have too much left,” Taugtes said of the season. “Just want her to continue being consistent and having that desire to put matches away. It’s not a normal season like it would be like and there are times that you play non-conference teams to do some different lineups and it hasn’t allowed us to do that.”
Gall is still undecided about whether she wants to play college tennis. She made a visit to Upper Iowa University earlier in the year and is leaning towards not playing.
Right now, she is focused on having fun the rest of her senior season.
“I just want to have fun given the circumstances and play hard,” Gall said.
Other notable performances:
Tennis: Georgia Kruchten-Tess Jones, Staples-Motley, won 6-0, 6-0 at No. 2 doubles in the Cardinals 7-0 win over LPGE.
Carly Chaney, Pequot Lakes, won 6-0, 6-0 at No. 2 singles in the Patriots 7-0 win over Parkers Prairie and won 6-0, 6-0 in a 7-0 win over Crosby-Ironton.
Riley Fogarty, Pequot Lakes, won 6-0, 6-0 at No. 3 singles in the Patriots 7-0 win over Parkers Prairie.
Quinn Trottier, Pequot Lakes, won 6-0, 6-0 at No. 4 singles in the Patriots 7-0 win over Crosby-Ironton.
Cross-Country: Calia Chaney, Pequot Lakes, won in 19:33.82 in the Crosslake meet.
Swim/Dive: Emma Gustafson, Little Falls, won the diving with a score of 205.30 in a 108-73 loss to Foley.
Jayda Alholm, Little Falls, won the 500 yard freestyle in 6:10.84 in a 108-73 loss to Foley.
Soccer: Mikwayla Houdek, Little Falls, scored two goals in the Flyers 2-1 win over Zimmerman.
Position: No. 1 Singles
Highlights: Won 6-0, 6-0 at No. 1 singles in the Pioneers’ 6-1 win over Aitkin and won 6-0, 6-0 in a 5-2 win over Aitkin.