Jasper secures 29th straight sectional championshipMay 18, 2018
By JONATHAN SAXON
JASPER — When was the last time you accomplished something that could be considered a noteworthy achievement?
Can you say that you were successful 29 times in a row?
The Jasper girls tennis team can certainly lay claim to such a high level of consistency, as the Wildcats used a 5-0 sweep over the Southridge Raiders to usher in their twenty-ninth straight sectional title on Thursday night.
All the way up and down the lineup, the girls brought their A-game forehands to the tennis courts Thursday evening and played some of the best tennis they were able to cook up for the fans in attendance.
Jasper coach Scott Yarbrough said the focus for his team was on playing the cleanest game the players could muster, with a special emphasis on cutting down the unforced errors. There have been the regular coaching activities, such as scouting, to prepare for sectional play, but Yarbrough said that at this point in the year, any mechanical and strategic tweaks that needed to be applied at an individual level would be minor. Right now, he just wants his girls focused on doing what they do best and maximize the best parts of their games to be successful.
“I think that speaks volumes about the foundation that was set way before I ever got here,” said Yarbrough. “ (It’s) pretty impressive I think.”
Sarah Monesmith, who was victorious at the No. 1 singles spot over Louisa Nino 6-0, 6-0, and Suchi Bandaru who defeated Southridge’s Evie Sherer 6-1, 6-0 both looked fast and assertive in their respective matches yesterday, as they moved across the court and sent serves across the net. Each of them came off the court beaming and excited to hoist up another sectional crown for Jasper.
The other final results were Josie Yarbrough defeating Nicole Eckert at the No. 3 singles spot 6-0, 6-0, Olivia Yarbrough and Caroline Theil defeated Kenzie Luebbehusen and Audra Hochgesang at the No. 1 doubles position 6-1, 6-0 and Maggie Getzin and Aubrey Williams defeated Sam Lange and Katlyn Brewer at the No. 2 doubles spot 6-0, 6-0.
“We went into the match focused trying to play really strong,” said Monesmith. “I’m just working on trying to get a rhythm in my matches. Been working on my serve a lot, so (I’m) just trying to focus on that.”
“I think we did good. We went out there and played clean tennis. We all played well, and that’s what’s most important,” added Bandaru.
Southridge coach Rhonda Diekhoff was gracious after the match and took inventory of the season. Yes, they missed out on the sectional title, but Diekhoff pointed out that the team did finish 14-2 on the season, and finished 1-1 in the sectional tournament.
She believes the Raiders have a lot to be proud of, and she hopes that her girls were able to enjoy themselves for the three months they decided to pick of a racket and take to the courts.
“I just told them to enjoy the night,” she said. “Play some good tennis and enjoy it. I have seven seniors on the team. This was their last hurrah and I just wanted them to enjoy it.”
Yarbrough said that the season had its ups and downs; the main theme that the team found themselves struggling against was health, as injuries and illness kept girls shuffling in and out of the line up during the course of the year. Yarbrough also said that he had to do a bit of mixing and matching on some of the doubles lineups he put out during the year as trying to find that right combination during a given match could be quite a challenge with such a talented team.
But in the end the decisions paid off and the team has another sectional title to show for it.
“Setting the lineup was probably the hardest thing this year,” he said. “We got all 22 of our matches in, as rough as this spring was. I really feel like over the last couple of weeks we’ve been really playing some good tennis.”
But now the Wildcats will look forward to the next round of play in regional as they attempt to make the march back to the state finals. Yarbrough will keep the team focused on looking for high percentage shots and limiting the unforced errors, but mainly he wants the girls to be themselves and play within their respective games. It’s that kind of consistency that won them their twenty-ninth straight title, and it will be that consistency which moves them forward in the postseason.
“We’ll focus a lot on us,” said Yarbrough. “I know a lot of coaches say that. But it’s more about us and fine tuning things. A lot of it is focusing on the things we like to do and the things we’re good at.”
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