Jeeps honor Celestine woman in Smash Cancer match

Photos by Traci Westcott/The Herald
Members of the Northeast Dubois tennis team release balloons to honor community member Jan Blackgrave during Wednesday's match against North Harrison at Northeast Dubois High School. The school and tennis team have been raising money to support Blackgrave and her family as she battles stage 4 colon cancer. For more photos from the match, click here.

By JONATHAN SAXON
jsaxon@dcherald.com

DUBOIS — The Northeast Dubois girls tennis team has been on quite the tear throughout the spring season, posting an undefeated record in their twelve regular season matches. The thrill of competition has proven to be enough of a motivating factor for the Jeeps, but when they took the court on Wednesday against the North Harrison Cougars there was something more at play to go along with the serves and returns.

The Jeeps dedicated Wednesday’s Smash Cancer match to support Jan Blackgrave of Celestine, who was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer in March of 2018. A lot of fundraising efforts sprung up around Dubois County to help the Blackgrave family offset some of the expenses that went towards fighting Jan’s cancer and Jeeps coach Tina Terwiske figured the tennis team could use Wednesday’s match to contribute something to the cause.

“We wanted to do something for them and with Smash Cancer we just took advantage of this opportunity to try to do something for that family,” she said. “We started discussing it late last week. The seniors went to the principle Monday morning and said ‘Could we do some kind of hat day?’ where they pay a dollar to wear hats in school to get the whole high school involved and raise some money.”

“I think us playing for something as a  greater cause than just playing tennis is something that motivates you,” added junior No. 1 singles player Chloe Terwiske. “You want to win for her, not just for yourself or your team.”

The Jeeps switched their regular uniforms for a spectrum of colored tops such as blue, pink, and purple to represent the various cancers that countless people are fighting the world over. The team also used the opening moments of the match to say a prayer for those fighting cancer and released a small cloud of balloons in their honor. There were also concessions for sale with the proceeds going towards the Blackgrave family.

After those opening moments the girls went out and did what they do best as the Jeeps defeated the Cougars 4-1 to maintain the unblemished season. Chloe Terwiske defeated Ellie Cassidy 6-0, 6-1 in the No. 1 singles match. Sophomore No. 2 singles players Olivia Rasche defeated Isabella Nordhoff 6-0, 6-0. The No. 1 doubles duo of senior Page Knies and Junior Alexis Stafford took down Zoe Akers and Ella Hoehn 6-2, 6-1, and senior Delaney Rasche and junior Olivia Schroering beat Olivia Wise and Emily Bowen 6-0, 6-0.

Terwiske called it a solid outing for the girls as they look to use the last few matches of the spring to refine their aggressive style of play and get ready for sectional. She sees the team is a favorite going into the postseason, so the last few outings have a bit more weight to them  as they’ll be the foundation the Jeeps set to pursue the sectional title.

Northeast Dubois' Olivia Rasche, left, and Courtney Vittitow bow their heads as a prayer is said in support of community member Jan Blackgrave, who is battling stage 4 colon cancer, before Wednesday's match against North Harrison at Northeast Dubois High School. For more photos from the match, click here.

“I was very pleased with it,” said Terwiske. “I know sometimes when you have all of this going on before matches the girls could be distracted. But they started from the first point and had a lot of focus tonight.”

“We just stepped up and played our match like we were supposed to,” added Chloe. “We’re playing our best tennis right now which is exactly what we want going into next week’s tennis sectional.”

But even with great expectations the team still has to play their matches and earn the right to call themselves sectional champs. The Jeeps know all too well that regular season success doesn’t guarantee a smooth postseason. But Terwiske is encouraged by the fact that the Jeeps have posted multiple 3-2 wins and thinks that those experiences in winning tight matches will be the difference when it comes time to fight for every serve next week.

“We know going in it’s going to be tough,” she said. “We’ve beaten Loogootee, Barr-Reeve, and Paoli in season matches and in sectional other things happen. Every position is going to have to hold up their own. A lot of 3-2 wins, but we’ve gotten three when we needed it. Doesn’t matter which combination we get, we fight for three wherever we can.”




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