SYRACUSE – Monday marked the annual tennis checkup for the Wawasee girls tennis team. With Plymouth earmarked as the seventh team on the round robin, the matchup typically provides a measuring stick heading into the impending Northern Lakes Conference Championships.
Plymouth left Wawasee with a 5-0 win, a firm announcement of the state of the two programs. But some hidden numbers in between may leave a glimmer for Wawasee in the days to come.
Plymouth finished the NLC round robin 6-1 and in need to keep pace in the standings as Concord wrapped up the regular season round robin 7-0 last week and in command to repeat as NLC champs. Plymouth would have to win the tournament to claim a share of the tourney, and displayed its varsity is ready to fight this week given how it looked at Wawasee.
Both of its doubles teams were very sharp, particularly its one dubs pair of Mary Beatty and Audie Plothow, which took down Molly Jones and Kaitlin Graber in a very efficient 6-2, 6-0 match. Not to be outdone, it’s two doubles were equal to the task, with Olive Stanton and Sydnie Weir also working a straight set 6-3, 6-1 win against Tate Cowan and Abby Morehead.
Singles also all went straight sets to Plymouth, but not without a fight Wawasee head coach Lynette Jackson was hoping for.
Kendra Doerr showed marked improvement in her battle with Kyla Heckaman at No. 1 singles. The two sparred for nearly two hours, and despite a 6-3, 6-4 win for the Plymouth junior, Doerr showed the propensity to keep up stroke for stroke with Plymouth’s best.
“Kendra, for example, just wasn’t returning the shots she was getting,” Jackson said. “When she would get to the net, she kept trying to hit a crosscourt shot to come in, and the ball was then at her feet and she wasn’t able to get a ball back over. A lot of what happened in the second set with all my singles players was not reacting to what the Plymouth girls were hitting. The Plymouth girls were just a little better in executing their shots and using their experience to put balls into spots our girls couldn’t react to.”
Miranda German was very workmanlike in her 6-0, 6-0 shutout of Peyton Rookstool at two singles, and after Elizabeth Kleopfer took Aubrey Vervynckt to the brink in the first set, Vervynckt settled down to close out a 6-4, 6-0 final at three singles.
Wawasee finishes the round robin 2-5 and in a three-way tie for fifth in the standings with Goshen and Northridge. The Warriors will have both Kleopfer and Rookstool with high seeds in their respective brackets, and Doerr will have a fighting chance in the No. 1 bracket. Both doubles teams will give Wawasee a chance to finish in the top half of the NLC for the first time in years.
“Our singles courts for sure, we can hang with anyone,” Jackson said. “I think tonight we went up with a team that’s a little bit more experienced than us. They made a couple adjustments in the match that we didn’t based on the shots they were taking. They were able to execute some of their shots and use the strategy they wanted to use. This is a tough match to have right before the conference tournament, but it’s kind of a good one to bring us back to earth a little bit and show us where we need to be.”
The NLC tournament opens Wednesday at Concord with bracket play in all five courts, with play resuming Thursday at Concord and finally Friday with action shifting to Plymouth for the finals.
“I’m really pleased with how this team is coming together right now heading into the NLCs,” added Jackson, whose team is 7-5 overall. “This year, I think our girls have a much better shot than they did at the beginning of the year, and really have been playing some good tennis.”