Shorter night is sweeter for Jeeps’ tennis convert

By BRENDAN PERKINS
Herald Sports Editor

DUBOIS — As Northeast Dubois senior Kendra Schroering walked toward her coach after Thursday’s match, both sported red eyes that were each starting to get a bit leaky.

OK, so maybe that’s because the Northeast Dubois tennis court are immersed in a plume of pollen, with grass and trees prompting some of the involuntary tears that made it look like some tender moment. But any time Schroering doesn’t test the bounds of daylight and is off the court in less than two hours, it may as well be cause to get a little emotional.

Schroering

It was once a running joke on the team: “Kendra, how long you going to play tonight?” She’s the marathon girl of the Jeep tennis team, but anymore, the pace is livening for Schroering, whose 6-2, 6-0 victory Thursday afternoon allowed the Jeeps to sew up a 3-2 victory over Heritage Hills.

In Schroering’s defense, these things take time.

She’d only played intermittently until her sophomore year when buddy and teammate Talia Terwiske convinced her to latch on to to the tennis team. Ascending to the team’s No. 2 singles player last year, Schroering engaged in stare-downs with opponents in which “three hours was average,” Jeep coach Tina Terwiske estimated. Her record for time spent on the court? Three hours, 45 minutes.

She hasn’t been totally immune to the old pattern. Schroering played three hours Monday night against Vincennes Lincoln, and Tina Terwiske figures that the match’s length, coupled with the fact that Schroering developed muscle cramps playing on the first warm afternoon of the season, probably factored into her dropping her first match of the season a night later Tuesday against Pike Central.

Thursday, nudging past Heritage Hills’ Meridith Balbach in the No. 1 singles match felt like a breeze for Schroering, who’s made it a priority this season to be “a lot smarter with the game rather than slow and steady. I try to pick it up and make riskier shots to maybe win it a little bit quicker,” she said.

It’s also meant bragging rights for Schroering, who’s bounced between the 1 and 2 singles positions in the ongoing lineup shuffle for the Jeeps (7-3).

“This year at the beginning, I was really quick. Last year, (Talia) and Jenna (Stemle) were always quick at 1 doubles and I was always the slow one. But this year, the first couple matches, I was quick and (Talia) was a little slower,” Schroering said of the Jeeps’ No. 1 doubles team, who sailed 6-0, 6-1 Thursday, joining the Jeeps’ No. 2 doubles pair of Andrea Smock and Stefanie Archer who won by the same score. “I kind of gave her a hard time about that one, I said we were going to switch places this year.”

Whether winning rallies requires five strokes or 10 or 30, it’s no biggie to Schroering, who stole one point Thursday by sprinting back toward the fence to retrieve a shot and then popping up a frying-pan shot that just cleared the net; she forced an error shortly later.

Schroering’s endurance promotes her consistency, “and a lot of cases in high school tennis, that works,” Tina Terwiske said. Schroering is also a convert from another sport that has carry-over value, as “if I can get more soccer players to do that, hey, I’ll take them,” Tina Terwiske joked.

“She’s a very confident player, she’s very patient,” Terwiske said. “Her matches are getting longer at 1, where she was dominant a little more at 2. But she’s handling it. She’s come amazingly far with the three years she’s played and has had the racket in her hands.”

Schroering’s victory provided the Jeeps with their third win of the evening, which is the number that continues to tantalize Heritage Hills.

Seven times this season, the Patriots (2-10) have surrendered losses by a 3-2 count. By coach Brian Oxley’s account, there’s no faulty link. Oxley said “it’s not the same three spots” that have trouble. In fact, Oxley crunched the numbers and found that the Pats have actually won more games in sum this season than they have in each of the last two seasons, when their overall record was better.

“It is something we have to keep talking about and telling them, ‘Hey, we are a talented club,’” Oxley said. “It’s almost like they have to learn how to win on a varsity level. We’re getting there. We’re definitely getting there.”

Heritage Hills plucked singles points Thursday from Alexis Rube, who downed Sara Clark 6-0, 6-1 at No. 3, as well as Vanessa Lahee, who overcame Jennifer Schepers 6-1, 3-6, 6-1 at No. 2. Oxley said his top singles player continues to progress, too, as “this is her first year extended throughout No. 1 singles, and she’s getting closer,” he said of Balbach, who jumped up from 3 singles a year ago.

Her counterpart’s rise has been similar. From where she started, Schroering couldn’t fathom that she’d end up inhabiting the No. 1 singles court when she started tennis on a whim two years ago.

“No way. Starting at 2 doubles and barely winning any matches to coming up to 1 singles and 2 singles and so far (being) undefeated at 2 singles ... it’s a lot different. It makes me proud of myself that I can do it,” she said.

Contact Brendan Perkins




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