Cats, Raiders advance to sectional championshipMay 19, 2021
By JIMMY LAFAKIS
JASPER — The stage is set for the Sectional 25 championship, as Jasper and Southridge advanced to Thursday’s girls tennis sectional title match after prevailing on Wednesday.
The opening-round sectional action featured plenty of local flavor. Jasper (14-3) took a 5-0 win against Forest Park (15-4) in the top half of the bracket, while Southridge (14-9) earned a 5-0 win against Pocket Athletic Conference foe Pike Central in the other match.
Shortly after Jasper defeated Forest Park, Cats head coach Scott Yarbrough offered a holistic reflection on the sectional atmosphere.
“You’re going to have to play through some nerves,” Yarbrough said. “It’s part of it. I don’t care if you’re playing in a sectional that you’re so favored to win and there’s no way you’re going to lose, or you’re playing in a really close sectional, or you’re the underdog. You go through some nerves. I think tonight was a really good lesson for us in the category of learning to play through the nerves a little bit. You play through some frustrations.”
The Cats won all three of the singles matches in two-set fashion. Jasper senior Josie Yarbrough earned a 6-1, 6-1 victory over Forest Park junior Brooke Haug in the one singles match.
“Brooke had some really good rallies with her opponent,” Rangers head coach Amie Weyer said. “She worked hard and kept fighting. All of them worked hard and kept fighting.”
Cats sophomore Allie Schnarr added a 6-0, 6-0 victory over Forest Park sophomore Kenzie Schulz at Two Singles. Jasper sophomore Ally Wigand kept the line moving with a 6-1, 6-1 triumph over Forest Park junior Payton Dilger at three singles.
The one doubles match featured some captivating rallies and a first-set tiebreaker. In the end, Jasper sophomore Brailyn Whaley and junior Delaney Wigand combined for a 7-6 (7-3), 6-2 win against Forest Park’s senior duo of Molly Lusk and Kaylee Uebelhor. Weyer lauded the Rangers’ tandem for their resilience.
“They were very, very positive,” Weyer said. “They kept communicating. They kept working toward that goal of, ‘OK, I want this next game. I want this next game.’”
Jasper junior Avery Bartley and senior Priyal Sharma notched a 6-0, 6-0 win over Forest Park sophomore Kaylee Berg and junior Emma Grundhoefer at two doubles. After the Cats punched their ticket to the championship, the Raiders captured their victory.
Southridge earned a 5-0 victory over Pike Central on April 21, but the Chargers employed a new lineup on Wednesday.
“Everybody steps up in the postseason,” Raiders head coach Paul Kinker said. “Pike Central, give them credit. They looked really good today. It was much different than what we saw earlier in the season. They had some girls back today, and it was a good match.”
Southridge junior Olivia Durcholz tallied a 6-0, 6-1 victory in the one singles match against Pike Central senior Zoey Davis. Fellow junior Olivia Lopez battled back in a 1-6, 6-1, 6-4 win over Chargers sophomore Ella McGuire at two singles.
The Raiders seized the momentum in the remaining three spots. Southridge senior Abby Kerkhoff claimed a convincing 6-1, 6-1 win over Pike Central freshman Jamie Sallee at three singles.
Southridge’s doubles teams also thrived in the pressure-packed environment. Raiders juniors Jordan Biehl and Kelby LaRoche walked away with a 6-0, 6-3 win over Pike Central freshman Ella Adams and sophomore Reagan Craig in the one doubles. The two doubles match belonged to Southridge junior Emily Roby and senior Gabbie Werner, who claimed a 6-0, 6-0 sweep over Pike Central sophomore Alaina Johnson and freshman Gabby Collins.
Both local coaches are prepared to compete for a sectional title Thursday. Jasper looks to win its 31st consecutive sectional, while Southridge seeks its first sectional championship in program history.
“We’re always excited to be in a sectional final,” Scott said. “Even though a lot of the girls haven’t experienced that yet, they get their chance to do that tomorrow night. I’m sure we’ll see some nerves there, too. Hopefully, we learned to play through it and get a little better at it.” “
We know what we’re up against tomorrow,” Kinker added. “We’ll try to give them a good match.”
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