Cats advance; Raiders, Rangers see bright spots

Photos by Traci Westcott/The Herald
Jasper's Taylor Marshall, left, walks and laughs with Forest Park's Brooke Haug after their No. 1 singles match during Wednesday's tennis sectional semifinal in Jasper. Marshall was victorious 6-1, 7-5 as the Wildcats moved on the sectional championship with a 5-0 defeat of the Rangers. For more photos from the matches, click here.


JASPER — While the Jasper girls tennis team had already clinched a sectional semifinal victory with a 4-0 lead over Forest Park, Wildcat No. 1 singles player Taylor Marshall wasn’t quite finished with her match yet.

With her second set coming down to the wire, the rest of the Wildcats made sure to give Marshall their full attention with a plethora of cheers and support — something she was very grateful for.

“It was really awesome,” said Marshall, who was victorious 6-1, 7-5 over Forest Park’s Brooke Haug. “There were so many past tennis players and parents there, everyone stayed (to watch) and it was awesome.”

The Jasper girls tennis team advanced to Thursday’s sectional championship by defeating Forest Park 5-0. They’ll face Pike Central who defeated Southridge 4-1.

In the match between the Wildcats and Rangers, Priyal Sharma and Emma Reutepohler were both victorious for Jasper at the No. 2 and No. 3 singles positions. Sharma defeated Haylie Marks 6-0, 6-2 and Reutepohler defeated Leah Wilmes 6-0, 6-0.

On the doubles side, Suchi Bandaru and Josie Yarbrough defeated Molly Lusk and Kaylee Uebelhor 6-0, 6-0 while Hadley Meyer and Delaney Wigand were victorious 6-1, 6-0.

The Wildcats had five players participating in their first ever sectional match — Marshall, Sharma, Reutepohler, Meyer and Wigand.

“Tonight was a good first step for us,” said Jasper head coach Scott Yarbrough. “I think our team has gotten better as the year went on but each day is something new. Anytime you put new kids in a lineup who have never played in a sectional the nerves are important as anything.”

Haug, who faced Marshall at the No. 1 singles position for the Rangers, was impressed with how she handled herself in her first career sectional tennis match.

While she fell 6-1 in the first set, she flip-flopped leads often with Marshall in the second set before Marshall pulled ahead with a 7-5 victory.

“I actually feel really proud of myself because at school and everything I was all scared — I was just hoping it wouldn’t be 6-0, 6-0,” said Haug. “During the second set, I was like ‘Sweet, I keep winning’ but toward the end with the crowd and everything it was a lot of pressure. I ended up losing but that’s okay, I still thought I did pretty well.”

In the match between the Chargers and the Raiders, Pike Central swept the three singles positions. Audrey Keepes defeated Evie Sherer 6-3, 6-2 at No. 1 singles, Natalie Bohnert outlasted Olivia Durcholz 6-1, 6-1 at No. 2 singles and Meredith Benson defeated Elizabeth Fleck at No. 3 singles 6-1, 6-2.

While the Raiders No. 2 doubles tandem of Kelby LaRoche and Gabbie Werner were defeated 6-4, 6-0 by Adair Kabrick and Chloe Roy, Southridge’s No. 1 doubles team of Jordan Biehl and Audra Hochgesang defeated Kirsten Jansen and Shelby Vaughn 4-6, 6-2, 6-2.

Spectators watch as Southridge's Audra Hochgesang and Jordan Biehl compete in their No. 2 doubles match against Pike Central during Wednesday's tennis sectional semifinal in Jasper. Hochgesang and Biehl were victorious over Pike Central's Kirsten Jansen and Shelby Vaughn 4-6, 6-2, 6-2. With the win, Hochgesang and Biehl advanced to the individual regional round next week at the No. 1 doubles spot. For more photos from the matches, click here.

With the victory, Biehl and Hochgesang advance to the individual regional sectional at No. 1 doubles.

“We’ve kind of been known as the comeback kids, we always seem to scare everyone for a little bit and then we come back and get them,” said Hochgesang, about the Raiders ability to rally from an early first set deficit. “We decided to just keep smiling through the whole thing — that’s kind of been our motto this year.”

Biehl added: “We’ve learned just to never get down on ourselves — if you miss one, you just have to smile. It’s something you learn from.”

The Wildcats will face off against Pike Central in the championship match this afternoon at 4:30 p.m. at Jasper High School.

While Jasper has won 29 straight sectional championships, the Wildcats know not to overlook anyone and are well aware that the Chargers have the potential to give them troubles. The team believes they just have to stay composed and focused in order to reach their goal — a 30th consecutive sectional crown.

“I hope the girls can come out and handle the nerves,” Yarbrough said. “I think they’ll eventually calm down but we want to come out and be patient — it should be fun.”

Marshall added: “I think we just have to support each other and stay up — we have to be excited about each other’s matches.”

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