Lady Pilgrims make quick work of Warsaw

Mary Beatty has the return as doubles partner Audie Plothow looks on.
Ron Haramia
Sports Writer

Just another Plymouth-Warsaw girls tennis match. NOT.
The past two years, the rivals have met twice each season – the Northern Lakes Conference meeting, then the regional finals - and they always ended with a 3-2 score. In the latest installment, the Lady Pilgrims’ singles trio made quick work of their Lady Tiger counterparts to lead an impressive 4-1 victory at the Mary Beth Hunter Tennis Complex.
 “We always want a win. It’s important for conference seedings too,” said Plymouth head coach Brad Haeck. “(Warsaw) has some girls with experience, but they graduated their top two. I thought we had an edge there, played well, and dominated from start to finish. I’m really proud of the singles players - moving their feet, playing smart, keeping balls in play and fighting off some tough shots.”
A year ago, Miranda German was involved with some of the more pressure-packed matches, but Tuesday she was the first one off the court, winning 6-1, 6-0, at No. 2 singles. The sophomore used a powerful serve to go with strong ground strokes and was never threatened.
“The (Warsaw) girl had some shots, but was a little inconsistent,” Haeck said. “Miranda has the athleticism to keep balls in play. She made the girl hit an extra shot and many times that led to an error. She’s not hitting her second serve like she should, but she was serving well. When her first serve is going in, she’s tough to beat.”
Aubrey Vervynckt, at No. 3, wasn’t on much longer than German. The freshman double-bageled her opponent (6-0, 6-0) and was clearly the more consistent player.
“She’s mentally tough,” Haeck added. “She’ll find a way to break you down. We’ve worked on strategies, lobbing, things like that. If the ball is hit deep in the court, she’ll throw a lob. If her opponent doesn’t put the ball away during a rally, she’ll find a way to get the point.”
Kyla Heckaman bounced back from a three-set loss Monday with a convincing 6-0, 6-2 win at No. 1 singles. The junior’s groundstrokes were smooth and she was able to move her opponent around long enough to cause an error or hit an easy passing shot herself.
“She definitely had more energy (than Monday),” said Haeck. “It has been a long week with matches and a lot of us are tired. We really haven’t had time to practice. That’s not an excuse, but we do need to clean up some stuff.”
The match at No. 1 doubles looked like it was going to follow suit with the singles matches. Mary Beatty and Audie Plothow won the first set 6-0, then led 2-0 in the second before Warsaw won six of the next eight games, forcing a third set.
“We missed some put-aways and got down on ourselves, but Warsaw adjusted too,” Haeck offered. “We got flustered in the second set, but Warsaw stepped up their game and made us hit more shots. We didn’t execute as well at that point.”
Beatty and Plothow regrouped though, and the third set looked like - and finished like - the first, with a 6-0 clubbing.
Shortly before the No. 1s were splitting the first two sets, Plymouth’s No. 2 doubles team saw a 3-2 second set lead switch over to a 6-3 loss. Warsaw had already won the first set, 6-2, giving the Lady Tigers their only team point.
“I’m a little frustrated,” Haeck said. “If we have to keep changing it up, we’ll change it up. We have a lot of athletes (vying for No. 2 doubles playing time). They play other sports, but they don’t play a lot of tennis and we need to fine tune some stuff strategically and fundamentally with that group. We’re still a relatively young team. We’re going to keep getting better as the season goes on. We’ve all got to take accountability for getting better and improving.
“Year after year Warsaw’s got a tough team, so we expected it to be a battle and we were prepared for that.”
Plymouth’s next match will be against another NLC opponent - NorthWood (3-1, 0-1 NLC) - this Thursday, weather permitting.
At Plymouth 
SINGLES: 1. Kyla Heckaman (P) def. Alyssa Zellers 6-0, 6-2; 2. Miranda German (P) def. Taylor Schoaf 6-1, 6-0; 3. Aubrey Vervynckt (P) def. Rachel Boyle 6-0, 6-0; 
DOUBLES: 1. Mary Beatty-Audie Plothow (P) def. Rachel Yeager-Raegan Merchant 6-0, 4-6, 6-0; 2. Amy Herendeen-Maddie Ray (W) def. Alaina Clady-Olive Stanton 6-2, 6-3.
Records: Plymouth 6-1 (1-0 NLC), Warsaw 1-1 (0-1 NLC)