CULVER — With the rest of their team now out of the state tournament, Andria Shook and Marissa German are happy to carry the banner for Plymouth.
The Lady Pilgrims may have been eliminated from the team tennis tournament via a disappointing 3-2 decision to their repeat regional champion hosts at the Culver Girls Academy Regional championship Wednesday night, but Shook and German remained unbeaten in the tournament to stay alive in the IHSAA’s 23rd Annual Doubles Tournament.
Two nights after Plymouth closed out the team season at the Gable Tennis Complex, Plymouth’s 1 doubles tandem celebrated its second straight individual sectional title there with teammates, coaches and family looking on.
“It means a lot for our team and for our coaches and for our school. We wanted to win for them, and it’s an honor,” said German.
“It means a lot, especially moving on after our team lost and getting to continue to play tennis our senior year,” said Shook.
“Thanks to everybody for supporting us.”
Shook and German made relatively short work of Northfield’s Leanne Beck and Alyssa Richter, who seemed content to lob the ball deep and wait for their Plymouth counterparts to make a mistake. But the errors were few and far between as German and Shook remained patient and put the match away in straight sets, 6-0, 6-3 to advance to the LaPorte Regional a second straight year.
“When teams lob, I think it’s a lot harder to sometimes return. You can’t play as tough because you’ve got to go back and lob back, and sometimes we don’t like to do that,” said Shook.
“But we were ready at the net in case they hit a short lob. We got some of those, and we did pretty good today,” said German. “We had good returns. This is the best match that we’ve had return-wise.”
“If we’re playing the way we want to, the other team’s going to lob,” Plymouth tennis coach Brad Haeck explained. “If we’re getting to the net and being aggressive like we should, that’s really kind of the only way to counteract that. We imagine that a lot of teams are going to do that to us if we play the way we’re capable, and we’ll be ready to quickly adjust to that when it happens and we did a nice job of adjusting to that tonight.”
The Lady Pilgrims senior tandem now advances to play at the LaPorte Doubles Regional next Saturday, June 1 opposite the doubles winners of the LaPorte Individual Sectional.
It’s the second straight year Shook and German have advanced individually to LaPorte after bowing out in last year’s championship match to eventual state champions Abigail and Vanessa Madrigal of Highland. The duo is unlikely to see such a high level of competition so early in this season’s state tourney, and they’re hopeful for a regional title and a berth at the state finals June 7-8 at Park Tudor in Indianapolis.
“Since we went last year, we know the atmosphere and everything. We won’t go in as nervous,” German said.
“Last year we went in a little nervous and easy, but this year we’re ready to go since we know what to expect,” Shook said.
“(Plymouth) boys and girls both have a strong tradition of having 1 doubles teams be able to advance after the team’s lost, so I know they’re excited about getting another opportunity to go over there to LaPorte and maybe get two wins over there this year instead of just one,” said Haeck. “We’re excited to be able to play another week, and hopefully we can show up next Saturday and play really well and get another doubles team down to state.”
Meanwhile at Friday’s individual sectional, Bremen’s Morgan Smith fell to Columbia City’s Celine Rongos in the singles championship match. Smith struggled with her service game to fall 6-4, 6-2 to the Huntington signee in the Lady Lions junior’s first and only loss of the year. She finishes at 18-1 falling short of a repeat of her individual sectional title at last year’s tourney.
• CULVER GIRLS ACADEMY INDIVIDUAL TENNIS SECTIONAL
Singles: Celine Rongos (Columbia City) beat Morgan Smith (Bremen) 6-4, 6-2.
Doubles: Andria Shook-Marissa German (Plymouth) beat Leanne Beck-Alyssa Richter (Northfield) 6-0, 6-3.