CARMEL — The No. 23 ranked Columbus North girls tennis team competed to the very end against its Conference Indiana rival, eighth-ranked Terre Haute South, but a state championship run came to an end in the quarterfinals as the Bull Dogs fell 4-1.
“We were getting hot at just the perfect time,” North coach Kendal Hammel said. “We got better and better after every match, and that was one thing the opposing coaches kept telling me, that we were stepping up and playing remarkable tennis.”
Even in the loss, North sophomore Madelyn Sanders said this still was a great season.
“Getting to semistate was huge for us and then winning it was even better,” she said. “When we got to state it was incredible and we all thought we could never get this far.”
The loss marked the end of the high school tennis career for seniors Hannah Frey and Paige Littrell.
Littrell was a varsity tennis player all four years.
“I’ve had a lot of special bonds with many of these girls,” Littrell said. “I remember when my freshman year that I was friends with one of the seniors and this year I was friends with a freshman. I am not going to forget any of these girls and the memories we made together.”
Littrell’s athletics career will continue next year with the DePauw University women’s basketball program.
The lone win for the Bull Dogs came at No. 3 singles, when Sanders defeated Breanna Rogers 6-4, 7-5. Sanders learned many lessons from her loss earlier this season to Rogers.
“I just had to outhit her and keep the ball in play, and eventually she made a mistake,” Sanders said.
Another close match came at No. 2 singles, where Littrell squared off against Erin Friedrich. Littrell captured the first set 6-4. Friedrich stormed back to claim the second set 6-4. The two battled it out in the third set, with Friedrich taking the win at 7-5.
No. 2 doubles also featured competitive play. North’s Yijiang Zhao and Shweta Srinivasan almost took the first set, but Hunter Duncan and Lily Yeagley broke serve at 7-5. Duncan and Yeagley closed out the match by winning the second set 6-2.
At No. 1 singles, Aubrey Smith dropped the first set 6-1. After storming back in the second set against the Braves’ Lauren Hambrock, who will play tennis at the University of Southern Indiana next season, Smith came up short and fell 6-4.
Frey and Hannah Shoemaker dropped their No. 1 doubles match to Sofia Saylor and Pamela Dorman by a score of 6-1, 6-1.
“It was hard to lose, especially when we were so close to winning,” Hammel said. “I am proud of this team. We dug deep. Paige and Madelyn didn’t give up when the team outcome was decided and kept fighting throughout.”
Hammel now has to find some shoes to fill next season with the departures of Littrell and Frey.
“They were a big part of our success this year,” Hammel said. “Hannah came out and had a great year. It is going to be tougher replacing Paige, who had four years as a (No.) 1 and 2 singles player.”