By Mike Deak
BOURBON – Not a bad way to start after a couple years off.
The 2021 Triton girls tennis program got back to work, both the old school and new school in the house Wednesday as North Judson ushered in the campaign. Triton had four seniors and three freshmen on the court against the Jays, with former coach Al Peckham wandering around and current skipper Adam Heckaman pacing as well. As the rain dried on the courts with the sun setting, Triton settled into the season with a 3-2 win over their HNAC rivals.
A brisk and heavy downpour about an hour before opening serve had Heckaman and company clearing the courts as North Judson arrived, but the teams were able to get started without much issue. As play unfolded, each of the singles courts went relatively quick.
Molly McFarland opened her final season on the court with a three and one win over Addie Harper in the one singles grid, and freshman Jenna Bules needed a little more time, but dispatched Emily Gunlach 6-2, 7-5 at three singles to put a pair of ‘W’s in the Triton column.
Judson countered with a one and love win by Lilliann Frasure at two singles against senior Madeline Ritchison.
“It was a good first match for us,” Heckaman said. “We got to see some strengths and weaknesses. We don’t have our full lineup yet, Emma Hepler doesn’t have her full practices in yet, so that will change some things around. But we saw some good things from practice to the matches, and it’s a starting point, especially for the freshmen out there for the first time.”
The doubles courts were a split decision. Triton closed out Judson at No. 2, going one and two by the freshmen duo of Cheyenne Hawley and Danica Kuntz over Olivia Burkett and Abby Chambers.
The nightcap match went into the twilight, as Judson’s Amanda Trakie and Sophie Frasure outlasted Triton’s senior team of Lexia Hostrawser and Lilly Hubert 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.
With the HNAC only having four teams, the win to start the year becomes just a little more valuable than just another experience match.
“When you start out with a conference match, and you play home and homes with each of the schools, these matches do matter when you are deciding a conference champion,” Heckaman said. “I thought the girls were nervous in the beginning of this, three freshmen who haven’t played a match before. It would have been nice to start with a non-conference team to shake the rust off, but they adjusted well and hit the ball with confidence.
“There’s some fine tuning and strategy, especially with doubles, seeing how we are compared to another team. I think this will be a very tight match when we see them later in the season.”
Triton (1-0, 1-0 HNAC) stays in HNAC play with its next match Monday in hosting Knox.