WARSAW – Wawasee girls tennis head coach Shane Staley wanted to see his team take a step forward Wednesday in the opening round of the sectional.
In a rematch of Monday’s regular season finale, Wawasee needed just over an hour to knock Whitko out of the Warsaw Girls Tennis Sectional, eventually winning 5-0.
The two teams waged a 4-1 decision in favor of Wawasee in Syracuse Monday afternoon, but the story was a lot more slanted in Wawasee’s favor Wednesday afternoon. Four of the five courts were over in less than 70 minutes, and all four of them had Wawasee give up only three games apiece in a nice show of consistency for Staley.
Wawasee’s two doubles were first off the court, the team of Molly Jones and Brianna Haessig winning a snappy love and three match against Izzy Rayner and Katherine Ousley. One doubles was effective in its net play, smashing home winners from both Courtney Larson and Kabrea Rostochak to draw up a two and one win against Mahkinsey Myers and Jenna Vancuren.
Elizabeth Kleopfer made it official for the Wawasee advancement, breezing through her matchup with Natalie Iholtz at one and two on the No. 2 singles court. At No. 1 singles, Kendra Doerr ran Jackie Werstler all over the court in a one and one final at just over the hour mark.
The only court in question was the furthest from the masses, court three for the No. 3 singles. Monday’s matchup with Whitko’s Kayla Schipper and Wawasee’s Kennedy Church was the only win for Whitko as Schipper won in three sets. Church flipped the script from their first matchup and took the first set, 6-1, but ran into some trouble as Schipper took advantage of Church’s errors and strung together some nice play in the second. Church, however, would rally back with her serve and claim a 6-4 second set win that closed up day one of the three-day tournament.
“Tennis is one of those sports where you don’t go in thinking you have the upper hand, because things can slip away pretty fast,” Staley said. “They went in with confidence, and we talked about not underestimating any opponent. It’s just a matter of confidence and putting away shots. We don’t have the most experienced singles players, so to actually feel confident and ending rallies rather than making mistakes can only help going forward.”
Wawasee moves to the sectional semi-finals, where it will see another Whitley County opponent it has seen this season in Columbia City. The Lady Warriors beat the Eagles 4-1 in the second round of the Wawasee Tennis Invite in April, and did so without Rostochak at one doubles, which scrambled the doubles assignments. The quality he saw Wednesday, combined with the first matchup, has Staley feeling confident about the semi-finals.
“We were shorthanded in the first matchup, but having Kabrea back will make a big difference,” Staley said. “They have a good team and are surely improved. Just because we beat them the first time around, we can’t take them for granted. I’m excited to see how our kids come out tomorrow.”
On the other side of the draw for Thursday, Warsaw will host fellow Kosciusko County neighbors Tippecanoe Valley. The two winning teams will meet Friday afternoon in the sectional championship. Warsaw, once again the heavy favorite, has won 17 sectional titles in a row and have won 27 titles in all, which is tied for 10th most in Indiana girls tennis history.