By SCOTT DAVIDSON
The regional round of the state tennis tournament is a very familiar place for the Warsaw girls tennis program.
This year’s edition of the Tigers hopes it’s also a friendly one as well as they face a familiar foe Tuesday.
Warsaw makes its 12th straight trip to regionals Tuesday. The Tigers (10-6) face Northern Lakes Conference opponent Plymouth (10-7) at Culver Academy Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. in a semifinal matchup. Host CGA (9-8) face Manchester (13-4) in the other semifinal clash Tuesday, also at 5:30.
The winners return to the Academy Wednesday to meet in the regional title match at 5:30. The regional champion advances to the LaPorte Semistate May 26 to face the winner of the LaPorte Regional at 10 a.m. for a berth in the state finals. The LaPorte Regional pits Michigan City (12-3) versus No. 4 Penn (16-1) and No. 10 Chesterton (17-2) versus No. 8 South Bend St. Joseph’s (18-3) Tuesday in a loaded field.
The Tigers expect a tough tussle with Plymouth, who they beat 3-2 on April 17. Plymouth, like the Tigers, have won 12 straight sectional championships. The Pilgrims topped Bremen 3-2 in the sectional final at Bremen.
“I believe we will have a difficult time with Plymouth,” said Warsaw coach Rick Orban. “We should win at 1 singles and we should win at 1 doubles. We won the first set 6-0 and then lost the next two sets at the conference tourney. It will depend on Lindsay (Sciarra) and if her knees hold up.
“I think 2 and 3 singles are toss-ups and 2 doubles will be even shorter than we have been since I will probably be moving up my 2 doubles JV player to play varsity due to another injury.
“Culver Academy is the prohibitive favorite. If only we had three days off, I really believe we would win regional. My team (when healthy) I believe would win against Culver 3-2. Our match ups would have been really good.
“I know that our kids will play tough. They have done that all year, so you never know.”
Warsaw, which lost 4-1 to Fairfield in the regional semifinals at Northridge in 2011, have battled through injuries all season. The gutty Tigers resemble a MASH unit with tape and braces the normal apparel for several key players, including No. 1 ace Sarah Hartle, the team’s lone senior who has an Achilles injury, and Lindsay Sciarra at No. 1 doubles.
Warsaw dropped a 4-1 decision to CGA on May 15 in the regular-season finale. Hartle did not play in that match and the Tigers have moved sophomore Jacqueline Sasso from No. 3 to No. 2 singles with sophomore Sarah Boyle going from No. 2 to No. 3. The pair were impressive in the sectional as Warsaw blanked Wawasee and Tippecanoe Valley in quick 5-0 fashion and then topped Columbia City 4-1 in the sectional title tilt Saturday. Juniors Lindsay Sciarra and Olivia Wallin were unbeaten in sectional play at No. 1 doubles for the Tigers, setting the tone in the final Saturday with a 6-0, 6-0 win. Sasso also won 6-0, 6-0 on Saturday.
Warsaw has won nine regional championships with the last coming in 2005. Plymouth owns five regional titles (the last in 2006), CGA three (the last in 2007) and Manchester none.