Improving East falls just short

The improvement of the Columbus East girls tennis team was on full display Tuesday afternoon in a 3-2 loss to highly touted New Albany in first-round action of the Hoosier Hills Conference Tournament.

Although the overall outcome was still not in the Olympians’ favor, coach Cheryl McGee was more than pleased with what she witnessed against the Bulldogs.

Action was tied up after four matches, leaving the showdown to be decided by No. 2 singles.

East sophomore Alaysha Pollert was squared off against Ashley Fulmer, who held a commanding lead before Pollert took a tumble and remained down on the court. The first-year varsity player easily could have retired to address her injury but insisted on playing out the match.

Fulmer went on to win 6-1, 6-2 but most East fans saw past the setback.

“(Alaysha) wanted to finish it out,” McGee said. “That’s how all these girls are.”

McGee said her team has come a long way since the earlier-season matches where the Olympians were getting blanked. With lone-returning senior Megan Galle back from injury, things are taking shape.

“We took two matches from a New Albany team that has experienced players in all of their spots,” McGee said. “I’m just extremely proud of how far they’ve come.”

Galle, the Olympians’ top singles player, put East in front early after blitzing past the Bulldogs’ Anne Mattox 6-1, 6-0 in a match that lasted less than 30 minutes.

“I think I was really focused,” Galle said. “We both had a little trouble with the windy conditions, but my serving really carried me.”

Both of New Albany’s doubles teams then closed out action to go in front 2-1.

Rachel Johnson and Megha Dhanapal beat the Olympians tandem of Kate Fox and Lauren Graham 6-2, 6-0 at No. 1 doubles, while the New Albany No. 2 duo of Allie Lambert and Emily Fleener put away Megan Newton and Carol Travis by the same 6-2, 6-0 score.

East knotted the action moments later after No. 2 singles sophomore Adycin Rager got past Raquel Burch in straight sets 6-4, 6-2.

“Adycin really stepped it up,” McGee said. “I thought all three of our singles would have to play outstanding to win. They all did, and we came up just a bit short.”

The Olympians (3-13) play at Jennings County today in second-round action with final rounds set for Friday.