During the Columbus East Sectional girls tennis championship match Friday, Columbus North coach Kendall Hammel had some minor concerns.
One of those concerns was how his doubles squads were going to fare against the depth of Columbus East.
It didn’t take long for Hammel to rethink his concerns, as both doubles squads were able to pull off wins for the Bull Dogs en route to a 3-2 victory.
“East’s depth was real good,” Hammel said. “They matched well, but like our girls have done most of the season, we all believed that we could do it.”
North (15-8), which reclaimed the sectional that the Olympians (14-5) won last season, advances to the Bloomington South Regional, where it will play on Tuesday against the winner of today’s Seymour Sectional final between the host Owls and Scottsburg. The regional finals are Wednesday.
Sara Vanderkolk and Sydney Anderson got the first win for the Bull Dogs at No. 1 doubles, defeating Pooja Pandita and Aneta Smidova 6-2, 6-2.
“We played a really strategic game,” Vanderkolk said. “We struggled early in the match, but we were able to build our confidence back up, stay positive and hit the ball like we knew we could.”
East’s Megan Galle was able to tie things back up after handling Paige Littrell at No. 2 singles 6-2, 6-1.
Galle praised Littrell’s toughness and said that she had to stay focused.
“She can beat you when you least expect it,” Galle said. “I knew I had to focus and keep hitting like I was in the match.”
North’s Rosemary Yonushonis came out strong in her first set in No. 3 singles but had to tough it out with Alexa Husmann-Miller in the second set to win 6-1, 6-4 to give the Bull Dogs a 2-1 lead.
“I played real strong today,” Yonushonis said. “(Husmann-Miller) is a tough player and always has been, and I had to find a way to work past her tough shots she was giving me and pull through.”
“(Yonushonis) is a fighter,” Hammel said. “She grinds, knows what she has to do to win and knows how to keep a decent lead on her opponent.”
At No. 2 doubles, Brooke Richardson and Meagan Olibo clinched the sectional title for North, topping Shyanne Reynolds and Susana Blanco 6-0, 4-6, 6-0.
“I was real concerned about No. 2 doubles,” Hammel said. “When we pulled out a 6-0 first set, it set the tone for the rest of the meet. They may have dropped the second set, but they showed that they weren’t going down easy.”
“Our team had some clutch moments,” Yonushonis said. “East moved around their lineup since last meeting and we knew they had the depth to keep things close with us.”
In the final match to be completed, Ashlee Hasson gave East its second win, defeating Aubrey Smith 7-5, 6-2 at No. 1 singles. Hasson advances in the Individual Singles Tournament.
“It was definitely a rocky start for me,” Hasson said. “She’s a very dangerous player, and we’ve had our close matches, but I started feeling better once I was able to pull out the first set.”
East coach Cheryl McGee said that North’s clutch games were what prevented the Olympians from gaining momentum.
“We both knew that this match could go either way,” McGee said. “There were times where we struggled, then bounced back, then gave up some costly games, and that’s what ultimately beat us.”
McGee said the team went through tough times throughout the season but was able to remain together.
“For the most part, we had a small team,” McGee said. “We worked hard every single day, kept everyone motivated to do better and encouraged each other.”
“This season has been great for us,” Hasson said. “We have had our ups and downs, but our senior leadership and everyone’s dedication kept us all together.”