Jeeps forced to wait for championship snapshotMay 20, 2017
By MICHAEL HUGHES
LOOGOOTEE — Only halfway through does it occur to the Northeast Dubois girls tennis team someone else might want to get on the court. That’ll have to wait, however, since there’s a tradition that needed to be upheld.
After every match this season, the Jeeps have posed for some form of a team picture. Then Savannah Stafford’s mom, Sheila, posts the photo on Facebook.
“Even if she’s not there, every match, whether we win or lose we take a picture and she posts it on Facebook,” said Megan Lueken, who along with Stafford was one of two seniors for the Jeeps this season.
Friday evening, that tradition continued even after a loss, a 3-2 setback in the sectional final against Barr-Reeve in Loogootee after the Jeeps edged the Vikings 3-2 in the regular season. Still, there was the entire team smiling for a photo while the Barr-Reeve players waited for their trophy ceremony to start.
For each photo, Sheila has also added a lighthearted caption. After Wednesday’s 5-0 victory against Loogootee in the semifinals, the winning photo talked about how the Jeeps “lit up the courts with their own bolt of lightning.”
“Yeah that was probably the best one,” Taylor Dodd chimed in after Lueken offered her favorite caption of the year.
That weather was a recurring problem this week, with the final against Barr-Reeve (16-2) originally scheduled for Thursday, but after a couple of hours of waiting for the rain to let up, more storms emerged, sending both teams scurrying back to their buses.
“It’s been a tough week, let me tell you that, with the lightning delays the other night,” Jeep coach Tina Terwiske said. “That was physically draining and I don’t think I realize how much until I was exhausted and I wasn’t out there playing. The starting and stopping was physically and emotionally tough to come back from. We sat here for a couple hours last night thinking we were going to play. Just a tough week to mentally prepare and physically prepare for the weather changes.”
Lueken admitted the week’s been stressful. But that’s also where she and Stafford contribute the most, perhaps.
Dodd credited Lueken and Stafford for much of the Jeeps’ success this year, one in which they captured 12 straight wins between Friday’s setback and a loss to Southridge in the season opener.
“Megan and Savannah have had a really big impact on this season, I think,” Dodd said. They brought a lot of fun and encouragement to the team and helped it be more upbeat instead of boring. They brought a little more excitement to it.”
The pair are also doubles partners, and at the No. 1 spot, hadn’t lost since the first match of the year. That changed Friday, though, with a 6-4, 6-4 setback. After that loss, the pair immediately shifted into cheerleader mode for the two remaining matches. After Dodd wrapped up a 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 win at No. 2 singles, the final match of the evening, Stafford and Lueken were the first two inside the fence to congratulate her.
Soon, the rest of the Jeeps joined for the photo.
“This team, no matter what their age — freshman, sophomore, junior, senior — they are one unit and have worked together all year long,” Terwiske said.
The core of that team consists of freshmen and sophomores. Dodd and Chloe Terwiske, a pair of freshmen, anchored the top two singles positions all season, and Terwiske isn’t done yet since she moves on individually after fighting past Barr-Reeve’s Natalie Schultheis 6-3, 7-6.
“Taylor and Chloe coming in at freshmen at No. 1 and 2 singles — gosh, I don’t even know what to say with the season we’ve had,” Tina Terwiske said. “Their individual records have been outstanding. To come in as freshmen and control those top two positions has been great.”
Against the junior-and-senior-laden Vikings, the Jeeps produced what Tina Terwiske called one of the most competitive sectional finals she can remember participating in, while also conceding that with her team’s youth “it just wasn’t our turn.”
Next year though, possibly with a new postmatch tradition in tow, that story might be a little different.
“I think we have a bunch of great lowerclassmen,” Dodd said. “If we keep working at it next year we’ll hopefully have a sectional title.”
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