Jovial Jeeps lift weight of 24-year wait

Matthew Busch/The Herald
Northeast Dubois’ Kendra Schroering, left, and Talia Terwiske jumped in the background of a photo being taken of teammate Jennifer Schepers, head coach Tina Terwiske, right, and assistant coach Tracy Gutgsell after Northeast Dubois blanked Barr-Reeve 5-0 in Thursday’s sectional championship at Loogootee. The Jeeps will face either Bloomfield or Linton in Tuesday’s regional semifinals at Jasper. For a gallery of photos, click here.

By JOHN PATISHNOCK
Herald Sports Writer

LOOGOOTEE — Thursday night was a long time in the making for the Northeast Dubois girls tennis team. Twenty-four years, to be exact.

M. Stemle

Northeast Dubois blanked Barr-Reeve 5-0 to win the program’s seventh sectional championship — and first since 1989. The Jeeps advance to the regional semifinals Tuesday at the Ed Yarbrough Tennis Complex in Jasper.

Northeast Dubois (14-1) will face the winner of Bloomfield and Linton; those teams will meet in the title match this afternoon at North Daviess.

“Awesome,” said No. 3 singles player Lena Kleinhage, who earned a 7-5, 6-1 victory over Bethanie Knepp.

“Yeah, it’s pretty awesome,” added No. 1 singles player Michaela Stemle, who rolled past Allison Hoover 6-3, 6-3. “I don’t know how to describe it. It really hasn’t hit me yet, but (I’m) very excited.”

Kendra Schroering completed the singles action by cruising 6-1, 6-1 against Melody Rohrer.
In doubles, Jenna Stemle and Talia Terwiske defeated Destiny Kidwell and Hania Sisco 6-4, 6-3 at No. 1, and Jennifer Schepers and Andrea Smock registered a comeback victory at No. 2 against Baleigh Miller and Kaitlin Swartzentruber. The Jeep combo dropped the first set before roaring back to win 5-7, 6-4, 6-2.

“As you can tell, my emotions are pretty obvious,” said a teary-eyed, overwhelmed Tina Terwiske, who’s in her 23rd year as head coach. “It feels really good.”

The Jeep coach graduated from Northeast Dubois in 1988 and won four sectionals and three regionals as a player. Thursday night, her team took advantage of a sectional realignment that took place two years ago, when the Jeeps were moved out of the Jasper sectional.

“The atmosphere here is awesome,” Tina Terwiske said. “Any of these teams could have won this sectional, so you came in competitive and every match meant something. You had that sectional feeling of you were nervous and you knew you had a chance but you had to play well to get it, so that was just good. There were too many years that we went into Jasper and knew we weren’t going to come out anywhere close, so this is good.”

Michaela Stemle jokingly described her coach as “a mess” after Northeast Dubois collected four early wins, removing any drama; Schepers and Smock were still playing in their second set by that time.

Stemle did her best to aggressively play smart, saying, “I tried to find the balance between that and keep her on the run and things worked out.”

“It’s a very cool thing and me being a senior this year, it’s really emotional and really awesome,” added Stemle, who along with Schroering won in straight sets after dropping a set to the Vikings in the regular season.

Kleinhage

Kleinhage, meanwhile, is a German exchange student who switched her approach early in her match. Her opponent began by playing passively during the first three or four points before playing the ball deeper and belting returns with topspin, forcing Kleinhage to zip back and forth across the baseline. She speaks English but had trouble finding the right words to describe this change in her style. Finally, she threw her hands up and said, laughing, “Sorry, I’m German.”

It was about the only moment during the day when she didn’t have an answer. She ripped a forehand winner for the match-deciding point, helping to record her moment in school history as team pictures of sectional-winning squads line the hallways and the gymnasium walls at the high school.

“It’s exciting, it’s exciting to stay in the school forever, as a picture,” Kleinhage said. “I go back (to Germany) on June 27, but still, my picture will forever be here.”

Tina Terwiske spoke at length about each of her players, past and current. Each one meant something to her, and she even touched on the 1983 squad that made the school’s only state finals appearance, in part inspiring her to play in high school. Not surprisingly, a few seconds couldn’t pass without someone congratulating her or wanting a snapshot taken with her.

It felt good, especially considering the group of girls with whom she ended the Jeeps’ postseason drought.

“I tell you, I couldn’t have a better group of girls out here than this one to win this sectional,” Tina Terwiske said. “I know everyone is congratulating me, but they did it. They got out there and played.”

Contact John Patishnock at jpatishnock@dcherald.com.




More on DuboisCountyHerald.com