North’s Wilson moves on to state singles semifinals

INDIANAPOLIS — Ashlie Wilson admitted she was a little nervous going into Friday afternoon’s Girls Tennis State Singles quarterfinal.

She didn’t play like it. The Columbus North senior was dominant from the beginning in a 6-1, 6-0 win against previously-unbeaten Franklin sophomore Rylie Wilkison.

“I was a little nervous, but I’ve played in a lot of tournaments, so I have a lot of practice handling in those kind of situations,” Wilson said. “I thought I played really well.”

Wilson (21-2) raced to a quick 5-0 lead in the first set before running into the only trouble she would face all day. Wilkison (22-1) held serve in the sixth game, then had several break-points in the seventh, but Wilson withstood them all before finally closing out the set.

Although Wilkison was more competitive in the second set than she was in the first five games of the first set, she was unable to take any more games from Wilson.

“Just with the nerves and everything, it’s hard to stay focused and win a lot in a row, so I’m proud of the way I was able to come back after losing that game and staying focused that last game of the first set and in the second set,” Wilson said.

“At the end of that first set, it just got a little tight,” North coach Kendal Hammel said. “It was a long (seventh) game, but she pulled it out and just kept cruising going on to the second set, just minimizing the errors and really taking advantage of her big shots and making the (Wilkison) girl do a lot of running.”

Hammel said Wilson executed the game plan to near perfection.

“She started out really well,” Hammel said. “Our game plan, what we thought about doing as far as setting up against her really worked very well. She was serving very good with first serves and just setting up all her shots.”

Wilson hadn’t played in a match since the Bull Dogs fell to Jasper in the semistate two weeks ago. This week, she went to hit with one of her future teammates at Purdue and with University of Indianapolis coach and tennis pro Tony Epkey.

“I’ve been practicing really hard and making sure I got point play and matches in over the past two weeks so that I wouldn’t feel rusty or anything today,” Wilson said. “Up at Purdue, the girl I got to hit with is very good. She was really good to practice with, so that helped me a lot. Then, going up to do lessons with Tony, he always helps with tactical things and just getting my mind right for matches.”

Wilson moves on to play Evansville Memorial senior Ellie Myers (24-0) in the semifinals at 10 a.m. today at Park Tudor. Park Tudor senior Lauren Long (24-1) and Terre Haute South freshman Sarah Rowe (18-7) will meet in the other semifinal, and the final will be at 2 p.m.

“It’s a different style of game, totally,” Hammel said. “(Myers) plays a flat, hard ball. (Wilson) did exactly what we wanted to do (against Wilkison), but (today) will be different day and type of player.”

Myers beat Wilson twice when they were freshmen and again last year in the semistate.

“I knew she’s a good player,” Wilson said. “We’ve played multiple times, but I think that with the right mindset, and if I just play my game, I definitely have a chance. I just need to make sure I get first serves and just play my game and be aggressive.”