JASPER — Columbus North came into Saturday’s Jasper Semistate looking to do something no team has accomplished all year — beat an undefeated fourth-ranked Providence team.
The Bull Dogs won the last two matches to finish, but the Pioneers already had secured the win with the first three points in the 3-2 victory.
“One of our goals was to make it to semistate,” North coach Kendal Hammel said. “We did exactly what we wanted to do. We had a good season. You hate to lose. We knew this would be a struggle, but they’re a better team.”
Providence (17-0) advances to Friday’s state quarterfinals, where it will meet Center Grove at Carmel.
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Yijiang Zhao earned North’s first point Saturday by beating Clare Hooper 6-3, 6-4 at No. 3 singles. Servane Cloteaux and Shweta Srinivasan ended the season with the final point for the Bull Dogs, beating Hannah Conder and Isabel Coe 6-2, 2-6, 6-2 at No. 1 doubles in what Hammel claims was one of their best matches of the year.
North’s strongest competition is in the singles play according to Hammel, but he knew going up against Providence’s top two singles players would be a challenge.
“Their 1 and 2 singles players are phenomenal,” Hammel said. “We talk about our three singles players being the lock of our team. If (Providence) can beat two of our three singles positions, then they’re just a better team.”
Both Aubrey Smith at No. 1 singles and Madelyn Sanders at No. 2 singles fell to Halli Trinkle and Natalie Boesing, respectively, 6-0, 6-0. Ali Bergman and Eva Chevalier lost 6-1 in both sets against Natalie Jacobi and Heidi Popson at No. 2 doubles.
The Bull Dogs (20-5) ended the season with all five of their losses against teams ranked in the top 10 in the state. Smith is the only senior North will be losing.
“We battled through some tough matches to get to this point,” Smith said. “We knew that this team was going to be a tough one because they’re ranked above us. But I think we battled pretty well, and we had a good season this year.”
Smith’s high school career has come to a close, but she will continue playing tennis at Bellarmine next year. Hammel said Smith has been a special player for North and somebody will have to step up to take her spot next season.