By SCOTT DAVIDSON
WARSAW – Sarah Hartle found something to be a little miffed about Thursday night.
Hard to do when you just posted a 6-0, 6-0 win at No. 1 singles to help your team to a 5-0 sectional semifinal victory.
But, it just tells you a little bit about the character and competitive spirit of the Warsaw senior.
The self-critical Hartle, the lone senior for the Tigers, didn’t win the “race” Thursday in the Warsaw Sectional.
Hartle was the second position off the WCHS courts versus Tippecanoe Valley as teammates Olivia Wallin and Lindsay Sciarra completed their 6-0, 6-0 win at No. 1 doubles just a couple of minutes before Hartle finished.
“We challenged each other tonight to be the first ones off the court,” said Hartle in referring to the race among the heavy favorites. “We wanted off the courts fast tonight. I’m pretty satisfied with how I played, but a little disappointed that I lost the race.”
Hartle, who will play golf at Holy Cross College, led the way as the focused and confident Tigers moved a step closer to the program’s 12th straight sectional championship.
“There’s still a lot of nerves in sectional regardless of who you are playing,” said Hartle, who continues to play stellar tennis despite playing through the pain of an injured Achilles heel. “Our whole team has the same mentality that it doesn’t matter who you play. It’s win and move on. We take it day-by-day, match-by-match.”
Warsaw (9-6) advances to play Columbia City (10-7) Saturday at 10 a.m. in the sectional finale. The Eagles beat Whitko 5-0 in Thursday’s other semifinal.
Warsaw topped City 4-1 on April 12 at WCHS. Warsaw won all three singles matches and at No. 1 doubles in straight sets in that early-season clash, while City won in three sets at No. 2 doubles. Both teams have altered their lineups since then.
The Tigers will be shooting for a 12th straight sectional crown and the program’s 22nd overall. City has won two sectional titles, the last coming in 1981.
The Tigers wasted no time Thursday as the hosts lost a total of just two games.
Juniors Wallin and Sciarra topped seniors Megan Bibler and Amanda Simpson 6-0, 6-0 for the first point. Hartle then walked off a 6-0, 6-0 winner over senior Staci Groom. The win was secure in just under 40 minutes as sophomore Jacqueline Sasso exited her court at No. 2 singles after a 6-0, 6-0 win over junior Danielle Bussard at No. 2 singles.
“I thought I played really well tonight,” said Sasso. “My goal was not to lose any games. I dropped a few last night (three total) and that made me kind of mad. It’s nice to have confidence going into a match, but you can’t think your’e just going to step out there and win.”
“We played very well tonight and I’m pleased with the girls,” said WCHS coach Rick Orban. “How can you not be when you lose just two games. I always challenge them to try and win 6-0, 6-0. It keeps them focused. They maintained their level of play tonight and that’s so easy to not do sometimes.
“I told them they were on their own tonight because I want them ready for Saturday. Valley’s players never hung their heads and I really like their coach (Matt Mobley). Realistically though we knew they had only won one match this year.
“I can tell you we will not look past Columbia City Saturday. Anything can happen and you can’t lose focus. I’ll drive that point home at practice Friday.”
Columbia City lost a total of eight games in blanking Whitko. Junior Celine Rongos beat sophomore Abby Marshall 6-0, 6-1 at No. 1 singles to pace the Eagles. Junior Adrianna Brown won 6-1, 6-4 over junior Laura Hippensteel at No. 2 and junior June Ramos defeated Elizabeth Shepherd 6-0, 6-0 at No. 3 for the singles sweep.
Junior Breanna Hicks and sophomore Sydney Ford topped sophomores Whitney Hobbs and Candice Swick 6-1, 6-1 at No. 1 doubles. City completed the shutout as senior Blake Farber and freshman Macie Hinen won 6-0, 6-0 over sophomores Erin Murphy and Bailey Baugher at No. 2 doubles.