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Three girls put the “Columbus” in the TLAC/Columbus Junior Open on Saturday afternoon.
Locals won three of the four girls singles divisions and finished second in the other in the annual tennis event at Columbus North High School. On the boys side, Seth Meyer upset top-seeded Luke Red in the 18 singles semifinals and will play for the title at 8 a.m. today.
Megna Chari gave Columbus its first victory when she rolled past Maria Popson of Sellersburg 6-0, 6-1 in the Girls 12 Singles final. The top-seeded Chari was one game away from a shutout before dropping the sixth game of the second set.
“I think I just got too excited,” Chari said. “I just messed up.”
Chari, who will be seventh-grader at Central Middle School, said she was hitting good cross-court shots and placing the ball well. She had beaten Tynan Dishman of Muncie 6-1, 6-0 in the semifinals.
“It’s nice,” Chari said. “I didn’t think I would get this far, but I did. It’s really exciting. I’m just going to remember this day.”
In the Girls 14 Singles, unseeded Madelyn Sanders of Columbus upset top-seeded Hallie Crenshaw of Seymour 6-4, 6-2 in the final.
“I think I just brought my A game,” Sanders said. “My serve really helped me during this match because my arm’s been hurting a lot lately.”
Sanders, who will be an eighth-grader at St. Bartholomew, had to rally for a pair of three-set wins in her first two matches. She beat Heidi Popson of Sellersburg 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 in Friday’s quarterfinals and Angela Wanstrath of Batesville 3-6, 6-2, 7-5 in Saturday morning’s semifinals.
“I start late in the match, but I really like to fight for the match,” Sanders said. “I think it makes it a lot more exciting to do that. But it was actually really hard to do because both the girls were really good that I played.”
Meanwhile, 14-year-old Aubrey Smith of Columbus played up a division and won the Girls 16 Singles. The third-seeded Smith Margaret Thompson of Galloway, Ohio, 6-4, 7-5 in the finals.
Smith, who will be a freshman at North, beat Kierra Helm of Muncie 6-0, 6-0; Brooke Richardson of Columbus 6-1, 6-0; and Emma Wood of Seymour 6-3, 6- to reach the final.
“I just wanted more competition, so I played 16s,” Smith said. “It felt good. I think I played pretty well.”
Sarah Vanderkolk, who will be a senior at North, beat Shelby Richardson of Muncie 7-6 (6), 7-6 (9) in semifinals before falling to top-seeded Madison Ashman of Muncie 6-3, 6-1 in the final. Vanderkolk was just eight days removed from playing in the high school state doubles finals.
“I know I played singles (Friday), but I’m not doing very well in the transition between singles and doubles,” Vanderkolk said. “I just had a slow start today. I made a lot of mistakes that I need to work on, but I felt better that I came back and that I definitely made her earn it.”
The unseeded Meyer, who will be a junior at Columbus East, will play William Reifeis of Indianapolis today after upsetting Red, who will be a senior at North, 7-5, 6-1. Reifeis beat Matt Fuehne, who will be a senior at East, 6-4, 6-3 in the other semifinal.
Meyer and Red had played six previous times, with Red winning two of three in junior tournaments and two of three in high school competition. Red beat Meyer at No. 1 singles in the regular season last fall, but the pair did not meet in the sectional since Red played doubles.
“This time, I was more aggressive,” Meyer said. “I used to be passive the last times I’ve played him, but this time, I kind of took it to him. It just feels good to finally get over the hump.”
Meyer beat Evan Rodenberger of Muncie 6-1, 6-2 and Alex Craig of Seymour 6-3, 6-3 before facing Red. Red had defeated Devon Current of Eaton 6-0, 6-0 and Khamisi Muhiga of Muncie 6-3, 6-4.
Twenty-six of the 110 players in the tournament came from the Muncie area, where they are coached by Delta High School boys and girls coach Tim Cleland. Cleland, a Hauser graduate, has been bringing players to the Columbus tourney since 1997.
Along with the Boys 18 singles final, all doubles finals will be played today at North.
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