WITH the sectional girls tennis tournament coming up next week, Columbus East was in need of some quality competition.
The Olympians got it Friday in 14th-ranked Floyd Central. The Highlanders edged East 3-2 in the title match of the Hoosier Hills Conference Tournament.
“I think we played remarkably well,” East coach Cheryl McGee said. “Playing a team like this and the caliber at all the spots is only a help to us. Obviously, we wanted to win, but the fact that we were right in there, it’s great to play this right before sectional.”
The HHC title was the seventh in a row for Floyd Central. The Olympians, who had fallen to the Highlanders by 4-1 scores in each of the past two HHC finals, were seeking their first conference championship since 1982.
East (13-4) tied the match at 2-2 when Lauren Fox and Susana Blanco finished off a 6-4, 6-3 win over Emily Stock and Madison Woosley at No. 2 doubles.
“I was pleased with the way that 2 doubles kept on playing their own game with them,” McGee said. “I think the other team kept on pushing them to do something differently, and they didn’t back off, so I was real pleased.”
Then, Alexa Husmann-Miller, trailing by a set at No. 3 singles, pulled even in the second set with Alexa Applegate at 3-3. But Applegate won the final three games for a 6-3, 6-3 victory to give Floyd Central the match.
“We went for awhile there without playing some stronger teams, and the way we played (Thursday in a 5-0 semifinal win over New Albany), we felt we had a good chance going into tonight because we played strong and aggressively,” McGee said. “I think it could have gone either way with that last point.”
The Olympians’ first point came at No. 2 singles, where Megan Galle downed Dana Frank 6-3, 6-0.
“I haven’t had a real competitive match in awhile, so it was a little bit harder for me to get adjusted at the beginning,” Galle said. “But once I started hitting with her, I started to get back to playing my game.”
East’s Ashlee Hasson fell to Giorgia Rossetto, an exchange student from Italy, 6-3, 6-0 at No. 1 singles.
“Ashlee walked off saying she felt good about the way she played, and she should have,” McGee said. “She was outplayed tonight. If Ashlee had a chance to play that caliber of player a lot, I’m sure she could probably be right up there even more so.”
Pooja Pandita and Aneta Smidova lost to Erin Patterson and Alex Jamison 6-2, 6-3 at No. 1 doubles.
“Our (No.) 1 doubles was right in it,” McGee said. “We just had a little trouble with them at the net, and by the time we kind of got it figured out, it was too late to get back in there.”
The Olympians now turn their attention to the East Sectional, which will be Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The draw is Monday evening.
“We feel good,” Galle said. “We’ve had a good season. We’ve been pretty solid. Obviously, sectional is going to be hard. There are a lot of good teams in there, and we’re going to have to play our absolute best to be able to win.”