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Young Panthers defeat Hauser in tennis

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NORTH VERNON — They had to wait out a patch of heavy rain, but Hauser and Jennings County finally served up season-opening girls tennis action Tuesday night with the host Panthers prevailing 4-1.

The Jets feature an experienced squad, paced by senior Haley Webster, but it was the youth-laden Jennings County crew that managed to pull out the win after taking advantage of their illness- and injury-plagued visitors.

“We do have a lot of players back, but we had to change things around for this match,” Hauser coach Elizabeth Rivers said. “Our No. 2 singles player is hurt, and our No. 3 is sick, but overall, I’m still pleased with the way the girls played.”

Webster, who begins her third season as the Jets’ No. 1 singles player, got things rolling for Hauser at the top slot, initiating Panthers’ freshman Amy Gasper in a quick 6-1, 6-0 outing. But Jennings took control from there, reeling off three consecutive two-set matches to clinch the victory.

Sophomore Kristen Nottingham downed Hauser’s Erica Bostic 6-2, 6-4, to knot action, before the Panthers’ Avis McGovern put away Kiersten Gross 6-1, 6-3. McGovern, also just a freshman, has taken to the sport at a blazing pace as she has only been playing organized tennis for a few months.

“She’s got a lot of potential considering she didn’t pick up a racket until a few months ago,” Jennings coach Deron Brown said of McGovern. “Pretty much our entire team has a lot of potential, but right now, we are a work in progress.”

Up 2-1, Jennings County’s No. 2 doubles duo of Hailee Harmon and Cassie Leach sealed the team win after defeating the Jets’ Bri Templeton and Brooke Knudsen 6-4, 6-0.

“This win was a big boost for us,” Brown said. “We just want to keep playing games and gaining experience.”

The No. 1 singles battle proved to be the long battle of the contest, going three sets before the Panthers’ sister tandem of Brittany and Elaine Lykins rallied to beat Sydney Tallent and Claire Romine 2-6, 6-4, 6-3.

“We had to mix things up today, but we should be OK in a few days,” Rivers said. “We want to get better each match and concentrate on winning the (Mid-Hoosier) conference.”

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