Cats best Bulldogs on tennis court

Photo by Corey Stolzenbach/The Herald
Jasper seniors Josie Yarbrough (left) and Lexi King (right) give each other a high five during their one doubles match together Tuesday against Evansville Bosse. King played in her first varsity match ever, and the Wildcats came away with a 5-0 sweep of the Bulldogs. 

By COREY STOLZENBACH
sports@dcherald.com

JASPER - Jasper tries to ensure that all of its seniors play in a varsity tennis match before they graduate, and Tuesday was that night for the 2021 girls against Evansville Bosse, as all four seniors played doubles.

The Wildcats (9-2, 5-1) swept the Southern Indiana Athletic Conference rival Bulldogs, 5-0, on a night where the lineup shuffled, but the results were similar - and for Lexi King and Sydney Small, they can say they both won the first varsity match they ever competed in.

"It felt different just knowing that it was varsity," said Small, who teamed with Priyal Sharma in two doubles. "I feel like there was more pressure just to be on varsity - you got to win, I feel like."

On a day in which the skies were gray, some local athletic events were cancelled and some light rain drops came down in the late afternoon and early evening, Jasper's players nevertheless managed to make it all happen.

"Rain is my favorite, so I liked it," said King, who teamed with Josie Yarbrough to win the one doubles, 6-0, 6-1.

"It was in Lexi's favor, apparently," Yarbrough added.

The chemistry shined on all four seniors in Tuesday's match against the Bulldogs. Sharma and Small had known each other since they were in kindergarten - so chemistry wasn't an issue. When King and Yarbrough warmed up before their respective match, it was the first time they had ever played doubles together.

Yarbrough had a lot of confidence in King, and thought she did well. She advised her to do something differently if she had missed a ball and would get the same ball again.

Sharma, meanwhile, lauded Small after their 6-0, 6-0 win together.

"You definitely came on the court with confidence," Sharma said to Small. "And I think that is the number one thing you need to do is that no matter how good or inexperienced your opponent is, is that you come on the court with confidence."

Wildcats tennis coach Scott Yarbrough believes his seniors are owed the chance to play in a varsity match, since they put in the time and stuck with the game. He told the Herald that King and Josie wanted to play together, while it was nice to team Sharma and Small together. It also helped that Josie and Sharma have the experience that they have.

"It makes it comfortable - definitely makes it comfortable, it makes it easier," Scott said. "Sydney's been around the game a little bit longer than Lexi has. So, Sydney has got as much experience as anybody. Lexi was just excited, I think, to play with Josie and play a varsity match, and I'm sure Sydney was, too."

The four seniors playing doubles together allowed some of Jasper's younger players to showcase themselves in singles spots. Sophomores Allie Schnarr and Ally Wigand played the one singles and two singles, respectively, while junior Delaney Wigand competed in the three singles. Scott thought his singles played clean tennis, and didn't have a lot of double faults.

"With Allie and Ally, they've been playing two and three for us most of the year, and they've won some big matches for us," he said. "So, there's no surprise that putting them higher in the lineup was not an issue for me.

"Delaney actually, probably when she first got into high school, probably thought herself more of a singles player," he continued. "She's kind of fallen in love with doubles a little bit. So, it's kind of nice to get the chance to play some singles and mix it up a little bit."

Scott said the Wildcats always focus on serves and returns to start practice, as they'll get ready for another SIAC team when they play Thursday at Evansville Harrison.

However, Harrison's coach, Skip Trapp, unexpectedly passed away April 12. A check of $5,000 raised by many in the Evansville area and people he knew will be presented to the college fund for his children, Henry and Lucy. Skip's father, Raymond will coach the Warriors.

"We had known each other since we were probably six years old," Scott said of the Evansville Memorial grad. "We were the same age, grew up together. We were rivals, then we were college teammates (at Murray State University in Kentucky), and then we actually coached against each other, and he was also a USTA official.

"So, he knew a lot of people, touched a lot of lives," he continued. "So, Thursday will be more about Skip and that family than it will be about the tennis match."




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