WARSAW – Warsaw girls tennis coach Rick Orban remembers the regional a year ago.
He just hopes that his team does too.
Orban expects his young team to be motivated to try and earn another opportunity to face conference foe Plymouth come Wednesday night in the finals of the Culver Academies Regional.
The Tigers, who won their 16th straight sectional title last Friday, will have to get past Manchester first Tuesday night in a regional semifinal matchup.
Warsaw dropped a 4-1 final to the Pilgrims in a regional semifinal last year. Plymouth went on to win the regional title before losing 3-2 to Munster in the semistate.
“Yes I will remind our girls of it,” said Orban Friday after winning the sectional title on their home courts. “And yes, I’ll use last year’s loss to Plymouth in the regional as motivation for this year. It will be talked about at practice come Monday.
“I always believe going into the regional that we can win it and this year is no different. We have to go in there wanting it and if we do we can win it. I feel really good about our chances. Our girls are confident and they believe and trust each other.”
Warsaw, which has won its last five matches by 5-0 counts, will take a 9-5 mark into regional play Tuesday night at the Gable Tennis Complex at Culver Academies. Manchester, which won the Peru Sectional crown, is 16-2. Plymouth sits at 16-2 after rolling through the Bremen Sectional to claim its 15th sectional title in the last 16 years. Rochester won the Culver Academies Sectional title and is 11-4.
The Tigers dropped a 4-1 decision at home to Plymouth during their Northern Lakes Conference match on April 19. The Pilgrims won at No. 1 singles as junior Lanae Singleton topped sophomore Liza Lewis 6-2, 6-1 and at No. 3 as sophomore Cortni Cook defeated sophomore Ella Knight 6-3, 7-6 (8-6). Plymouth took both doubles matches that day as junior Kendall Dreibelbis and sophomore McKenzie Scheetz stopped sophomore Hannah Rice and junior Athena Schlitt 6-2, 6-3 at No. 1 and senior Kayla Hoober and sophomore Leah Smith beat sophomore Grace Miller and Chelsey Farling 6-1, 6-2 at No. 2. Warsaw’s lone win came at No. 2 singles as sophomore Colette Smith beat junior Ashley Harrell 6-3, 7-5.
Warsaw went 2-0 versus Plymouth in the NLC Tournament May 11-13. Lewis beat Singleton 6-3, 6-3 in a first-round match at No. 1 and Knight topped Cook 6-3, 6-0 in the title match at No. 3.
The Pilgrims have the same lineup now as the first match versus Warsaw back in April. The Tigers have made one change as senior Rosie Fleming is now paired with Miller at No. 2 doubles.
“We know that if we face Plymouth in the finals that they are going to fight,” noted Orban. “It’s as simple as that.”
Warsaw’s last regional championship came in 2005. Manchester, which is in the regional for the first time since 2012, has never won a regional title. Manchester is making its’ first-ever regional appearance.
The Triton team, which had an outstanding season at 13-2 and included a regular season league title and a conference tournament championship, will be represented at the regional in doubles play. The Trojans’ No. 1 doubles team of sophomores Hannah Wanemacher and Emma Ross will compete Tuesday night versus the Culver Academies top doubles team. Wanemacher and Rice, who are 16-1 on the season, defeated the Bremen No. 1 doubles team in in three sets (6-7, 7-5, 6-0) in a sectional semifinal match last Thursday to extend their season in the individual portion of the No. 1 doubles state tournament series.
Action at the Culver Academies Regional is scheduled for 5 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday. The regional winner returns to Culver Academies Saturday at noon to play in the semistate versus the winner of the LaPorte Regional. No. 4 South Bend St. Joseph, which is 14-1, is the favorite at LaPorte.