By Steve Joos
Shelby Ackerman had a rough go of it at last week’s Mount Vernon Sectional girls’ tennis tournament.
The North Posey first singles players ran into two of the area’s toughest, losing to Central’s Jessica Kim on Thursday and Claire Alvey of Mater Dei Friday.
They will be playing in the individual tournament from here on out.
Ackerman will be with her teammates—in the Evansville Regional.
The Lady Vikings rallied to win the first Sectional girls’ tennis title in school history Friday, taking the last three spots to clinch a 3-2 upset victory over defending champion Mater Dei at the Mount Vernon Junior High courts. That followed a 3-2 win over Central in Thursday’s semifinals.
The North Posey boys have won four Sectionals, but this was the first for the Lady Vikings.
“All of my girls did well,” Coach Brandon Barrett said. “At one and two singles, we struggled, but they went out and they tried their best. Two doubles had a really close one. I knew we had to win that second set tie break. We would have been in trouble if it went to a third set. Bri Brown at third singles did an unbelievable job against a four-year varsity starter at singles and she’s only been playing varsity singles for six matches.”
Kendall Reidford and Wendi Simpson pulled out a 7-5, 3-6, 6-2 decision over Victoria Richmond and Jenna Smith at first doubles Friday afternoon to clinch the crown for North Posey, capping their comeback.
Alvey made quick work of Ackerman at first singles, winning 6-1, 6-1, while Katherine Bender was even more dominating at second singles, beating Natalie Thomas 6-0, 6-0, but then the Lady Vikings started their comeback, winning almost in order.
Bri Brown started the rally, beating Emily McAtee 7-6(7-5), 6-1 at third singles, finishing off her Lady Wildcat opponent just seconds before the second doubles duo of Lindsey Droege and Megan Durcholz finished off Megan Steinkamp and Jamie Logel 7-5, 7-6(7-5) to turn what was a 2-0 deficit into a 2-2 tie.
Barrett switched Brown to singles five matches prior to the Sectional and that decision paid off, as she took a first-set tiebreaker and then put away McAtee.
Reidford and Simpson played their second straight three-setter Friday, but Barrett had no doubt that his first doubles duo would get the job done and they did.
Simpson and Reidford had been playing together for three years, but got into a down stretch midway through the season, so Barrett broke them up for a bit. When they were reunited late in the season, they played a lot better together.
“I knew we got the draw we wanted,” he said. “That was a rough one against Mike Owen and Central. When the parings came out, we wanted a draw against Central and then we wanted a chance to take out the champions and that’s how it worked out.”
The Lady Vikings took two singles spots and first doubles on Thursday as they nipped the Lady Bears 3-2.
Kim put away Ackerman 6-1, 6-0 at first singles, but then the rest of the teams went to work.
Brown topped Hilary Smith 6-1, 6-2 at third singles, while Thomas outlasted Kaci Nisswandt 6-3, 7-5 at third singles and then North Posey once again got a tough three-set win at first singles to clinch the meet, as Simpson and Reidford posted a 6-4, 5-7, 6-1 decision over Lily Weaver and Melissa Lytle.
“(Kim) had been a number one singles the last two seasons” Barrett said of the first singles match. “Shelby beat her early in the season, but she’s a different player today. She was hitting angles, she was hitting it in and Shelby just couldn’t stop her.”
Barrett went back to the lineup he used early in the season, with Brown at third singles and it seemed to work against Central.
The Lady Vikings had shown a considerable amount of improvement over the last few weeks of the regular season, according to the coach.
The last week and a half has given the Lady Vikings a lot of momentum, something Barrett felt, but didn’t say anything about that to the team at the time.
Barrett complimented Mater Dei for their strong effort, the kind that’s to be expected from a defending champion, adding that he was concerned about it at first, but then his team started playing hard.
The Lady Vikings now head for a Tuesday Regional match up with 16-1 Gibson Southern, which blanked Wood Memorial 5-0 on Thursday to capture the Princeton Sectional.
The finals at the new North tennis courts will be played Wednesday night, with the winner advancing to Semistate action Saturday at Jasper.
North Posey tuned up for the Sectional by nipping South Knox 3-2 at home earlier in the week.
Ackerman had a better time against the Lady Spartans, beating Megan Brink 6-1, 6-0 at first singles, while Thomas was a 6-2, 6-0 winner over Haley Burch at second singles.
North Posey didn’t fare as well at third singles on the other hand, with Bri Perry dropping a 6-1, 6-3 decision to Bailey Dillon.
The two teams also split at doubles, with Brown pairing up with Droege at second doubles for a 6-4, 6-2 win over Cassie Rehwald and Laura Rustl, while Durcholz moved to first doubles. That wasn’t as successful, as she and Reidford fell to Alyssa Koby and Katie Gray 6-3, 7-5.
“We really didn’t have any problems with (South Knox),” Barrett said. “The last week-and-a-half has given us a lot of momentum. We just were playing well down the stretch and I knew we had something special going on.”
The Lady Viking reserves closed out their season with a 5-2 victory over South Knox.
Sometimes tennis scores can be deceiving.
A 3-2 meet can be pretty much cut and dried, while a 5-0 victory can be hotly contested if the spots are close.
That may not have been the case in some of the Lady Vikings’ last meets of the regular season.
The Lady Vikings started off by blanking Wood Memorial 5-0 and then came back to shut out Bosse 5-0, before beating Heritage Hills 4-1.
The scores of both of the early matches suggested that neither was very competitive.
The Lady Trojans had a few moments, but not that many. Reidford and Simpson gave up a few sets early and then topped Gina Strickland and Rachel Wilkins 6-2, 6-0, at first doubles, which was also how Thomas took her second doubles match over Shelby McGregor.
Ackerman and Brown each gave up two games, but they still controlled their matches, as Ackerman beat Rebecca Mullen 6-1, 6-1 at first singles and Brown was a 6-1, 6-1 winner over Sara Hornby at third singles.
Droege and Durcholz posted a 6-0, 6-0 victory over Alex Houchin and Audrey Tepe at second doubles.
The North Posey reserves whitewashed Wood Memorial 2-0 in their meet.
The Lady Vikings then slammed the door on Bosse, beating the visitors 5-0.
The Lady Bulldogs provided the Lady Vikings’ top two singles players with the toughest tests of the night, if one can consider 6-1, 6-0 a test.
That was the score as Ackerman dispatched Mikhalia Hamilton at first singles and Thomas beat Sheaven Harrelson at second singles.
Everybody else won 6-0, 6-0.
That was the score as Brown topped Alexis Medina at third singles, Reidford and Simpson whitewashed Brittney Avera and Shauna Purdy at first doubles and Droege and Durcholz blanked Lucy Jackson and Cassie Pollard at second doubles.
The Lady Viking reserves also hauled out the whitewash for an 8-0 win over Bosse.
Things were a little tighter in the makeup meet with the visiting Lady Patriots.
First singles went to Heritage Hills, as Bridget Butcher topped Ackerman 6-3, 6-1, while Emmi Stark pushed Thomas to three sets at second singles, before the Lady Viking could pull out a 2-6, 7-5, 6-4 victory.
But the further down the score sheet, the stronger the Lady Vikings performed.
Brown took over in th second set and polished off Allison Barron 6-4, 6-1 at third singles, while Rediford and Simpson topped Alyssa Begle and Jessica Deller at first singles 6-2, 6-0.
Droege and Durcholz also needed some time to warm up, but then they dispatched Megan Boehm and Morgan Schafer at second doubles 6-3,6-0.
Heritage Hills also got a lick in during the reserve meet, won by the Lady Vikings 4-1.
The three wins followed a pair of tough Pocket Athletic Conference losses in recent meets
The Lady Vikings took both doubles spots, but the Forest Park Lady Rangers swept the singles early in the week. That simple math adds up to a 3-2 victory for the visiting Lady Rangers, and then Gibson Southern blanked North Posey 5-0.
Brown pulsed the Lady Titans’ Haley Decker to three sets, but it wasn’t enough as she dropped a 6-2,3-6,7-6(4) decision at third singles in what proved to be North Posey’s closest spot against the visiting Lady Titans.
Thomas also put up a fight at second singles before falling to Alison Goedde 6-3,7-5, while the rest of the spots were progressively more favorable to Gibson Southern. The first doubles combo of Rachel Sensmeier and Alyssa Kiesel posted a 6-2, 6-3 decision over Reidford and Durcholz, while Sydney Fenton and Mariah Chamberlain were 6-2, 6-2 winners over Droege and Simpson.
At first singles, Kori Titzer was a 6-1, 6-1 winner over Ackerman.
Against the Lady Rangers, Reidford and Durcholz were 6-3, 6-0 winners over Amelia Ebert and Rachel Hentrup at first doubles, while Droege and Brown dispatched Jordan Buechler and Kereston Hochesang 7-5, 6-2 at second doubles.
Ackerman put up the toughest fight at first singles, but fell to Samantha Hopf 7-6(6), 6-0. Thomas also put up a battle in the first before falling to Alexa Lange 7-5, 6-1 at second singles, while Amie Weyer faced Simpson at third singles and posted a 6-0, 6-4 victory.
It was good news, bad news week for the Lady Viking reserves, as they defeated Forest Park 5-2, but lost to Gibson Southern 4-1.
By Steve Joos
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