PLYMOUTH — Plymouth’s girls tennis team started the Northern Lakes Conference Tournament with hopes of overtaking Northridge or at least Goshen after a third-place finish behind the two in round robin play. With two rounds of the NLC tourney now complete, the Lady Pilgrims’ chances of doing so are all but defunct.
Plymouth went 2-2 on a cold Friday evening in Centennial Park following a 6-4 start over Wednesday’s opening round and Thursday’s abbreviated round.
Northridge, the round robin leader after an undefeated 7-0 stint in head-to-head matches, advances to the championship on all three singles courts today as well as the 1 doubles court, while second-place Goshen, which beat Plymouth but lost to Northridge to finish up round robin play at 6-1, will play in the 1 singles championship and 2 doubles title match and will play for third place on the remaining three courts.
With just one championship opportunity at 1 doubles, third place match berths at 1 singles and 2 doubles and a fifth-place match berth at 3 singles, Plymouth is now likely looking for its best possible finish behind presumptive favorites Northridge and Goshen. With IHSAA sectional draws Monday and the tournament looming Wednesday, the Pilgrims are also looking to gain back some steam headed into the postseason.
“You come into the tournament hoping to finish ahead of Northridge or Goshen or both, but at this point I don’t think we can finish ahead of either one,” said Plymouth girls tennis coach Brad Haeck. “We still have a lot of pride on the line… We definitely want to play well on the last day and hopefully get a little momentum going into the rest of the season. All the matches get more and more important as the season keeps going. Hopefully we have a good day tomorrow to spring us into the rest of the season.”
While Plymouth’s chances at NLC championships at 1 singles and 2 doubles ended over Thursday’s and Friday’s second round, the hosts’ No. 1 doubles team of seniors Andria Shook and Marissa German advanced to today’s title match opposite Northridge’s Courtney Clark and Olivia Erekson.
Shook and German went down a set in their semifinal match with Emily Halley and Ali Peters but answered back from that 6-4 loss with a 6-1 win to split sets with the Goshen duo Thursday. The rivals were knotted in a 2-2 tie as rain cut short the second round of play, and after resuming the match Friday, Shook and German surrendered just one game en route to a 6-3 win and the right to play for the 1 doubles title.
The senior Pilgrims tandem finished up last year’s NLC tourney in second-place behind Northridge in the final 1 doubles standings, and they’re hoping to rewrite history today. Clark and Erekson handed Shook and German a three-set loss the last time the two teams met in round robin play a little over a week ago, but after Friday’s reprisal over Halley and Peters following a similar three-set loss to the Goshen duo back on April 30, the Pilgrims are hoping to flip the script once more.
“They played great here today. They started out 2-2 and ended up winning 6-3. They played really aggressive; they stepped in and hit really solid returns and were really aggressive getting to the net. That’s what we need them to do to be successful against good teams,” said Haeck of his 1 doubles team.
“We’re really excited for them and happy for that outcome, but they’ve got a really tough Northridge team coming up. They lost the finals to Northridge last year together, and one of the same girls is back there. We played a really close three-set match with them earlier in the year and lost. They were able to kind of avenge a three-set loss to Goshen tonight, and hopefully we can kind of avenge another loss in the championship tomorrow.”
Also for Plymouth Friday, Ellen Smith and Emily Blake suffered a second 7-5 setback to Leah Shetler and Kayci Troyer after entering Friday down a set to the Goshen No. 2 doubles teammates and tied 4-4 in the second set. Smith and Blake will play Northridge’s Emily Erekson and Mackenzie Martin for third place today.
Carli Berger earned a 6-1, 6-3 win over NorthWood’s Megan Reed at 3 singles to advance to play Concord’s Holly Angel in a fifth-place match today, while Mikayla German lost 7-6(6), 6-3 to Warsaw’s Jacqueline Sasso at 3 singles to finish up the tourney in sixth place.
Pilgrims No. 1 Allie Berger will play Concord’s Jenna Landis in a match for third place today.
“They’re all important. We want as many points as possible,” Haeck said. “(Carli) did a nice job just playing steady. She got herself down in the second set — she holds herself to a high standard — but she got us the win there, so that was nice to see.”