WARSAW – In what has been forecasted as a very wet second half of the week, the girls of the Northern Lakes Conference tennis teams better pack a lunch. Possibly a sleeping bag.
Rain forced the start of the NLC Girls Tennis Championships indoors from host Warsaw Community High School to the Warsaw Racquet Club Wednesday afternoon. The change in venue forced several hands in how the tournament would fare, from the locations to the start times, even to rules changes put in place to keep the tournament somewhat tidy in regards to length. With rain in the forecast for Thursday and Friday, when the second and final rounds were originally scheduled, it could be a long few days of tennis.
“This is as bizarre a circumstance as I can remember, possibly having three days of rain in a row,” stated Warsaw head coach Rick Orban. “You just tell them you have four courts. It’s going to take a while to get through it.”
Wednesday’s matches started at 4:01 p.m. when Warsaw’s Sarah Boyle and Wawasee’s Jada Antonides opened the two singles bracket. Boyle wouldn’t need long to beat Antonides 6-2, 6-0. Matches slowly got under way as teams began to filter in. However, with just four available courts at the club and 20 courts needed to get all of the five bracket’s worth of games in, time began to factor.
Wednesday’s play ended at 9:25 p.m. when Northridge’s Kylie Frauhiger outlasted Plymouth’s Kristin Riise 6-0, 6-4. What was significant about the ending was that four matches hadn’t yet started with a pair of one doubles and one singles matches still to be played Thursday among all the second round matches.
Included in the did-not-plays were Wawasee’s Katy Ashpole in her one singles match with Goshen’s Miranda Kay and Warsaw’s one doubles team of Anna Hall and Camille Kerlin against Courtney Clark and Emily Erekson of Northridge.
“This is just one of those things that we can’t do anything about the weather, we just have to make due with what’s in front of us, even if it’s a six-hour wait or longer,” said Wawasee head coach Chris Winters. “But, I would much rather wait inside and play in ideal conditions than go outside and deal with 30 mile-per-hour winds and 40-degree temperatures.”
Warsaw did have two courts earn wins, led by Boyle’s result and also at three singles, where Rachel Alexander had to work for a win. Taking the first set 6-2 against NorthWood freshman Hannah Walter, the Warsaw senior showed poise in several long rallies. But as Walter gained momentum in the second set, Alexander also found another level and claimed a 6-4 second set win.
At one singles, Concord’s Jenna Landis looked as good as anyone playing Wednesday. Landis was sharp in both her drop shots and her precision volleys, leaving the hard-hitting Jacqueline Sasso of Warsaw muttering to herself in a 6-0, 6-0 result.
Warsaw almost had a third court reach the winner’s draw at two doubles. The tandem of Abbi Baum and Athena Schlitt grabbed a quick 6-2 win against Plymouth’s Libbie Portteus and Lanae Singleton, but lost steam after leading 4-3 in the second set of a 6-4 loss. In a trait of the tournament’s worry for time, rather than play a full third set, breaking the tie would go straight to a first-to-ten tiebreaker. Plymouth’s doubles duo were able to reach the mark first in a 10-6 victory.
“Sarah was a seeded player and she played a very strong, very smart match,” Orban said. “Rachel was seeded and she played an incredibly good first set. She got a little bit nervous in the second set, but she settled down, I wasn’t too concerned about it. She won the match.”
Wawasee didn’t have any of its four active courts move into the winner’s bracket. Chelsea Carolus at three singles faced the No. 1 seed Jessica Stillson of Plymouth, and while hanging around for a while, couldn’t break through in a 6-0, 6-1 final.
NorthWood’s one doubles team of Tori Schwartz and Kennedy Walter looked very sharp in a 6-0, 6-2 win against Erin Wiktorowski and Addison Ayres. Schwartz’s power serve and Walter’s rocket return volleys were just too much for the Wawasee pair to handle, even during a minor rally in the second set facing elimination at 5-0.
Concord’s Michaela Searer and Alana Brubaker had too much precision in overwhelming Wawasee’s Jaclyn Miller and Jazlyn Gehlhausen 6-0, 6-0 in the two doubles grid. Wawasee’s duo didn’t win more than two consecutive points the entire second set in displaying the edge Concord had.
“At this point of the season, you just have to try to put things together, even if it’s small things,” Winters said. “We’re not necessarily focusing on trying to beat players and teams that we know are a level above, but just working on stringing together points, then games.”
Overall through the first day of matches played, NorthWood, Concord, Northridge and Plymouth all have three court wins. Warsaw have two and Memorial and Goshen both have one but Memorial, Goshen and Northridge all have two courts still to play while Wawasee and Warsaw have one court yet to start.
The location of the tournament also took a turn with the impending weather. Rather than relocating to Concord Thursday as originally planned, the tournament will stay in Warsaw Thursday and Friday rain or shine. If play can be done outside, the tournament will move to Warsaw Community High School. If not, then it’s back to the Warsaw Racquet Club. The same goes for Friday.
Tournament director Jan Orban and WCHS athletic director Dave Anson both stated if matches cannot be finished Friday, play will continue Saturday at Concord High School. Weather pending, of course.