At one point in Friday night’s girls tennis sectional final, Columbus East had either the lead or the momentum in all three matches that were being contested.
Eleventh-ranked Columbus North recovered to win two of those matches, then won two more that started much later than the others, to claim a 4-1 victory against the host Olympians and advance to next week’s Bloomington North Regional.
A pair of heavy showers on Friday afternoon pushed back the start of the match almost two hours from its scheduled 4:30 p.m. time. Even then, only two courts were playable, so No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles were the lone matches to begin.
North’s Shweta Srinivasan and Servanne Cloteaux won the first set at No. 1 doubles, but East’s Kendall Gerkin and Kathryn Hodzen rallied for a 3-6, 6-1, 6-3. But not more than a couple minutes later, the Bull Dogs’ Aubrey Smith rallied from a 5-2 second-set deficit to beat Megna Chari 6-3, 7-6 (3) at No. 1 singles.
The No. 2 singles match started more than an hour after the first two. The Olympians’ Adycin Rager took a 5-4 lead in the first set, but North’s Madelyn Sanders recovered for a 7-6 (3), 6-3 victory in a match that finished under the lights.
“I’m not going to lie — it wasn’t the most fun thing I’ve ever done,” Sanders said. “I’m not really used to playing at night under lights. I’m used to playing in the sunlight. We weren’t even sure if we were playing or not, so you just had to be in the mindset that, ‘I’m probably going to play a match today, but I need to be ready to play one tomorrow.’ It was just a waiting game, but I pulled it through.”
Freshmen Ali Bergman and Eva Chevalier clinched the match for the Bull Dogs (18-3) with a 6-3, 6-3 win against Maddy Rhodes and Carolyn Travis at No. 2 doubles. North’s Yijiang Zhao then finished off a 6-2, 6-2 win against Alaysha Pollert at No. 3 singles.
North will play the winner of the Bedford North Lawrence Sectional in the Bloomington North Regional semifinals at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday. The regional final is at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.
East finishes its season 15-4. However, Gerken and Hozden will advance in the individual sectional tournament by virtue of still being unbeaten in the tournament.