Whaley, Wigand to compete in doubles state

Photo by Corey Stolzenbach/The Herald
Jasper sophomore Brailyn Whaley (left) and junior Delaney Wigand will represent the Wildcats in the state doubles Friday at North Central. The semifinal and state championship matches are set for Saturday.

By COREY STOLZENBACH
sports@dcherald.com

JASPER — Delaney Wigand and Brailyn Whaley began the 2021 tennis season having never played together before, but no matter what happens this week, they’ll end it having competed in the state doubles tournament.

Wigand, a junior, and Whaley, a sophomore, will partake in the individual state tournament Friday in the quarterfinals against Hamilton Southeastern juniors Misha Bukkasagaram and Emily Orme at North Central.

The two of them helped the Wildcats to a 21-5 team record this spring, as Jasper made it all the way to the state semifinals, but Whaley and Wigand are playing on because they won their one doubles match against eventual state champion Carmel.

“I’m really excited,” Wigand said. “I think we work really well together, and so, I’m excited to showcase what we can do this weekend again.”

Wigand was one of only a few players entering this tennis season who had prior varsity experience, since she played two doubles back in 2019. Going into the season, Jasper tennis coach Scott Yarbrough had some names in mind of whom to pair Wigand with, but Whaley has taken steps to get to this point.

“In Brailyn’s case, she’s improved so much over the last year-and-a-half, and their personalities fit so much,” Yarbrough said.

Yarbrough told the Herald that Jasper’s doubles like to play aggressive and stay aggressive. He added that Wigand and Whaley’s personalities probably don’t match that, but their playing styles have likely begun to evolve into that.

The two of them described the other’s personality, and how they’re able to mesh well.

“Delaney’s really sweet,” Whaley said. “She never gets down on ourselves, and she always keeps our spirits — even if we’re not winning all the time.”

“What’s good about both of us — we’re really supportive of each other,” Wigand said. “When Brailyn will make a mistake or something, we’ll really be supportive of each other, and she’ll help get my head back where it needs to be when I’m feeling down."

One person who knows what it’s like to be in the same boat as the two of them is 2021 teammate Josie Yarbrough, who just completed her senior high school season. Josie made it to the individual state doubles tournament with Suchi Bandaru in 2019.

"She's been super-encouraging, and even after we won our first match, she was so happy for us," Wigand said of Josie. "And she's been encouraging us to do our best this entire week."

"She's also helped me with nerves and everything going into state since she's been there before and she knows what it's like," Whaley added.

Both of them said they weren't nervous when they spoke to the Herald on Tuesday, but they also added the nerves will be there today around the time of the match.

"The closer is gets, the worse it gets," Whaley said.

Wigand believes a good warmup would help with the nerves, and they'll be sure to talk to each other to know what they're going through. She noted that neither of them had been to state or to individual state - so it helps that they're both going through the same thing.

"We are more accustomed to what state is like," Wigand said. "Because now we know about the referees, we know what the courts are like and so we'll be much more accustomed to it."

A win for Whaley and Wigand would put them in the 10 a.m. semifinals on Saturday morning, and if they make it that far, the state championship match is at 2 p.m.

"I think if we can handle our nerves, then I think we'll be okay," Scott said of the Hamilton Southeastern match.




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