BLOOMINGTON — Columbus North girls tennis players, coaches and fans had a good reason why they were nervous against Bloomington North because it is always tough to beat a team three times in a row in one season.
As the match wore on, however, the nerves slowly started to drift away.
The Bull Dogs made some nice recoveries in some sets that looked to be slipping away from them and made some late charges to win 4-1 in the semifinals of the Bloomington North Regional.
Columbus North moves on to face Seymour, which defeated Madison Shawe in the other semifinal match 5-0.
The match of the night was at No. 1 singles that featured Aubrey Smith of Columbus North and Carolina Lopes of Bloomington North. Smith had no trouble capturing the first set 6-1 but ran into some trouble in the second set. She found herself down 4-1 at one point but stormed back to force a second set tiebreaker and prevailed 7-6 (4).
“In the second set, (Lopes) started making less errors because in the first set, I was going for stuff and hitting my shots, and she was making more errors,” Smith said. “Her backhand was much better than her forehand, and I didn’t realize it until later and I had to fight through it.”
No. 2 singles was another tight battle between the Bull Dogs’ Madelyn Sanders and the Cougars’ Bailey Gardner. Sanders was in solid position to capture the first set, but Gardner stormed back to force a tiebreaker. Sanders prevailed 7-6 (2). She made sure Gardner did not have another comeback in store and finished off the second set 6-2.
The other three matches went a little quicker. At No. 3 singles, Yijiang Zhao of Columbus North defeated Joy Bhattacharya 6-2, 6-0. At No. 2 doubles, Ali Bergman and Eva Chevalier of the Bull Dogs downed Sophie Fornefeld and Rachel Barrett 6-3, 6-1.
The loss for Columbus North came at No. 1 doubles, where Servane Cloetaux and Shweta Srinivasan were defeated by Isabel Flynn and Lillian McAfee 6-1, 6-1.
“I was really proud of this team, no doubt about it, tonight,” North coach Kendal Hammel said. “My three singles players came through. Madelyn played a very good match. Aubrey played tough against (Lopes) again. No. 2 doubles jumped on it right away and did not let things get close at all. I was pleased with how the team played and responded with all the pressure on us in that this was a big match.”