By SCOTT DAVIDSON
WARSAW – Sarah Boyle’s foray into the No. 3 singles spot for Warsaw proved to be a smashing success Wednesday.
The efficient and effective Boyle set the sectional tone from the start in fine fashion for the highly-favored Tigers with a 6-0, 6-0 win.
Warsaw, winners of 11 straight sectional championships, went on to blank rival Wawasee 5-0 in first-round tourney play.
The Tigers (8-6) face Tippecanoe Valley Thursday at 5 p.m. in one semifinal. Columbia City plays Whitko in the other Thursday semifinal at 5 p.m. The winners then meet Saturday at 10 a.m. for the sectional title and a berth in the Culver Academy Regional May 22.
Boyle, who has played No. 2 singles most of the season, defeated fellow sophomore Samantha Klinge in 40 minutes with an individual shutout to start the team shutout.
“My main goal tonight was to play a smart match,” said Boyle. “I wanted to play safe and keep the ball in play. I think I played well tonight.
“With high expectations for our team you want to fulfill those. Being the favorite gives me confidence. With this being my first match at No. 3 this season I think it helped having more experience playing at No. 2. I want to do what is best for the team. This gives me confidence. This season has been a learning experience for me.”The Tigers took a 2-0 lead as juniors Lindsay Sciarra and Olivia Wallin topped seniors Karla Allen and Mia Hauser 6-2, 6-1 at No. 1 doubles in 52 minutes. The hosts clinched the win as Sarah Hartle, the team’s lone senior, topped senior Morgan Geer 6-1, 6-2 at No. 1 singles in 1:08.
Hartle, who completed a 40-0 Northern Lakes Conference career record with a title at the league tourney last Friday, lost the first game of each set before taking complete command.
Warsaw completed the sweep as sophomore Jacqueline Sasso beat sophomore Katy Ashpole 6-1, 6-2 at No. 2 singles and sophomores Taylor Moore and Mallory Bartel stopped senior Laura Romar-Gomez and sophomore Samantha Prins 6-1, 6-3 at No. 2 doubles.
The Tigers had beaten Wawasee 4-1 on April 26 albeit with both teams with different lineups than Wednesday. The Warriors had won a three-set match at No. 2 doubles in the NLC Tourney Friday versus the Tigers.
“Two more rounds to go,” said Warsaw coach Rick Orban, whose team has now beaten the Warrors 5-0 in the last six sectionals. “This is a brand new season and Wawasee came here to win tonight and so will Valley Thursday.
“I’m proud of the girls. They stayed focused tonight. We’re the favorite, but you never know. Jacqueline played extremely well tonight at No. 2 and I’m really proud of Taylor and Mallory at No. 2 doubles. They lost to Wawasee last Friday.
“Sarah Boyle was wonderful tonight. That should give her confidence. She’s fought through an injury. I felt good about moving her to No. 3 and Jacqueline to No. 2. Sarah was fine with it. These kids want to do what’s best for the team. Sarah Hartle is just a gamer. The MRI showed her stress fracture is healing, but she’s playing in a lot of pain.”Wawasee coach Jenessa Jergensen, a former player at Grace College, pointed to the improved play of her squad.
“I’m definitely proud of our girls and in no way discouraged,” said Jergensen. “We saw tonight how much they improved during the season. The last time we played Warsaw easily won. I enjoyed the season.”
Wawasee finishes the season at 3-11.