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O’s cruise to victory against Panthers

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In a match that was delayed by lightning, the Columbus East girls tennis team opened the Hoosier Hills Conference tournament with a 5-0 win against visiting Jennings County on Monday.

Lightning had delayed the start of the competition three separate times for more than 75 minutes. Once the delay was finally over, East wasted no time taking care of business on the court.

Olympian senior Ashlee Hasson defeated the Panthers’ Amy Gasper at No. 1 singles 6-0, 6-0.

At No. 2 singles, East junior Megan Galle defeated Avis McGovern of Jennings County 6-0, 6-0.

“Ashlee and Megan made very few unforced errors tonight,” East coach Cheryl McGee said. “They played their own game and didn’t worry about what style of play their opponent was playing once they had control.”

Jennings County coach Deron Brown said it was just about competing Monday.

“I just told the girls to try to keep the game as close as possible,” Brown said. “They played as well as they could, but East is a very good team, especially at the top with their two singles players.”

East’s Alexa Husmann-Miller won her match 6-1, 6-0 against the Panthers’ Kristen Nottingham at No. 3 singles.

“Alexa had to adjust at first at balls going deep down the court because she was in the habit at using her doubles skills and going to the net,” McGee said.

McGee praised Husmann-Miller’s vast improvement since switching over from doubles to singles in the middle of the season.

“I was worried at first switching her over because of the different mindset that goes into playing singles,” she said. “The way she has handled herself out there, someone would think she has played singles her entire career as opposed to doubles.”

East’s Pooja Pundita and Aneta Smidova won at No. 1 doubles against Elaine Lykins and Brittany Lykins 6-2, 6-1.

“Both of them struggled a little bit at their timing,” McGee said of her No. 1 doubles team. “They had to adjust at balls getting hit with less spin on them. Once they adjusted, though, they played their game the way they wanted to.”

Olympians Lauren Fox and Susana Blanco defeated Cassie Leach and Hailee Harmon at No. 2 doubles 6-1, 6-0.

“Our No. 2 doubles team had great angle shots,” McGee said. “They used the entire court and I liked how they were putting the ball in between their opponents.”

“It took us a bit to get adjusted to their hitting,” Fox said. “We just kept motivating ourselves and to calm down and stay focused.”

For Brown, it’s all about improvement for the rest of the season.

“It’s all about hitting off good shots,” he said. “We’re a young team, and once the mechanics of the game come naturally to them, we should be just fine.”

East plays on the road against the winner of Monday’s Jeffersonville-New Albany match Wednesday in the HHC semifinals.

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