Olympians, Bull Dogs advance to championship match

Columbus North and Columbus East will face off for the sectional crown after both teams breezed through the first round of the East girls tennis sectional.

North beat Hauser 5-0 with both Aubrey Smith and Madelyn Sanders winning 6-0, 6-0 in singles play. Smith beat Hauser’s Alana Owen at No. 1 singles, while Sanders beat Hauser’s Catherine Bruer at No. 2 singles.

Yijiang Zhao got the third point by beating Madie Sherman 6-1, 6-0 at No. 3 singles. Freshmen Ali Bergman and Eva Chevalier won 6-0, 6-1 against Abby Johnson and Tori Chandler at No. 2 doubles.

North coach Kendal Hammel expected the 11th-ranked Bull Dogs (17-3) to bounce back strong after a tough loss to Terre Haute South in Monday’s Conference Indiana championship.

“This was good for us,” Hammel said. “We’ve had a good year. We’ve played competition. We’ve competed and pushed ourselves in practices and in matches. I think we’re ready for what’s going to come tomorrow and hopefully down the road.”

North’s Shweta Srivinasan and Servanne Cloteaux found themselves in a close match at No. 1 doubles against Annie Ashbrook and Sarah Tedder of Hauser (6-4). Srivinasan and Cloteaux won the first set 7-5 and started the second set down 5-2. They managed to close it out by winning the second set 6-4, but Hauser coach Molly Crabtree was happy with her team’s effort.

“I felt good about it because we went in thinking we were going to get destroyed,” Crabtree said. “My 1 doubles competed really good, and some of my girls were able to get to deuce, and that’s all I can ask for … I think we did really good (this season), especially since small schools like us, being a 1A. We played just right there or better than most of our 1A schools. It was hard for our girls to come in and play a 5A school today.”

Alaysha Pollert won 6-0 in both sets at No. 3 singles for the Olympians (15-3) against Brown County’s Baelyn Koester. East’s Megna Chari beat Hallee Miller 6-2, 6-1 at No. 1 singles. Kendall Gerken and Kathryn Hodzen beat Venessa Hoskins and Jacey Ferguson 6-1, 6-3 at No. 1 doubles.

“Earlier in the week were were talking a lot about just taking it one day at a time and just focusing on one opponent at a time,” East coach Matt Malinsky said. “They did a great job of that today. Especially at No. 2 singles, we had a really good turnaround after a rough start.”

Adycin Rager lost the first set 7-5 against Brown County’s Elisabeth Huls at No. 2 singles, but forced a third set after winning the second 6-0. Huls won the first three games in the final set and was up 5-3 before Rager battled back to win it 7-6 for East third point.

Sarah Barrick and Maria Villalon of Brown County (8-8) also put up a fight against Carolyn Travis and Maddy Rhodes at No. 2 doubles. Travis and Rhodes won the first set 6-3 and fell behind 5-2 in the second set. They managed to pull it out with a 7-5 win.

Brown County coach Tom Miller the Eagles have been in a continuing state of improvement over the past few years and said they should be even better next year.

“It’s seems like its been a season of, ‘It could have gone either way,'” Tom Miller said. “Every team we have been playing this year, we are fighting at every level. The strength of our schedule has increased every year. We’re playing teams we would have never wanted to play in years past, but we want to compete at this level.”

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Frank Bonner is a sports writer for The Republic. He can be reached at fbonner@therepublic.com or 812-379-5632.