CULVER – The Warsaw girls tennis team started strong Tuesday in regional semifinal play.
But, Peru put together a furious finish to sideline the Tigers.
Peru rallied to top the Tigers 4-1 in the semifinals of the Culver Academies Regional.
Peru improves to 22-1 on the season, while Warsaw finishes at 7-9.
Peru will face host and defending regional champion Culver Academies (16-4) Wednesday at 5 p.m. in the final for the regional title and a spot in the South Bend St. Joseph Semistate May 31.
The hosts topped Bremen 4-1 in Tuesday’s other semifinal match. The Lions finish at 19-3.
Peru lost 4-1 to Culver Academies in the regional semifinals a year ago.
Warsaw, which lost to Plymouth in the regional semifinals a year ago, had a great start.
The Tigers won the first set on four of the five courts to open play. Peru then turned the tables on Warsaw to win three of the matches in three sets.
“We started off strong and then Peru changed their strategy from playing a power game,” said Warsaw coach Rick Orban. “Give them credit. They are a good team and they changed up at the right time.
“You could see them gain momentum and see their confidence grow. I think them changing things frustrated some of our players and we lost our focus a little bit, But, give Peru all the credit.”
“I was not disappointed. I was proud of our girls. They were there to win and they kept fighting and never gave up. It was just a confidence thing. That’s what I saw tonight. At 21-1, they expected to win.”
Senior Rachel Alexander picked up the lone point for the Tigers, who were in the regional round for the 14th straight year. She defeated Anna Boyer 6-2, 6-3 at No. 3 singles.
“Rachel was the better player and she really dominated the match,” Orban said. “She played her game, All in all, she played very solid and very smart tonight.”
Madison Deniston rallied to beat senior Jacqueline Sasso 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 at No. 1 singles for Peru.
Adrianna Ward followed the same formula as she outlasted senior Sarah Boyle of the Tigers 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 at No. 2 singles.
Peru took the point at No. 1 doubles as Breanna Manriquez and Kyle Eckerley beat senior Anna Hall and junior Camille Kerlin 6-3, 6-1.
The No. 2 doubles duo of Grace Comerford and Mallory Struble topped senior Abbi Baum and freshman Athena Schlitt 1-6, 6-1, 7-6 (7-5).
Warsaw loses five seniors in Sasso, Boyle and Alexander in singles and doubles players Hall and Baum.
“It was a good year,” concluded Orban.
On the individual court, Wawasee’s Katy Ashpole is still alive. The Wawasee senior played Whitko’s Mikayla Findley – both of whom won while their teams lost at the Warsaw Sectional. Ashpole came out victorious 6-0, 6-2 against Findley and awaits the outcome of tonight’s team regional final.
Both Peru and Culver Academy won team matches Tuesday, and the one singles players of Deniston of Peru and Natalia Lopez-Yanez of the Academy are both undefeated as individuals. Two scenarios await Ashpole. The first would be she would play either Deniston or Lopez-Yanez if their team loses and they win the one singles court or Ashpole advances the the individual regional June 7 in LaPorte if the winning one singles court is part of the winning team advancing to the team semi-state.