DUBOIS — It hasn’t been the easiest spring on the courts for Northeast Dubois girls tennis. Youth and inexperience have allowed for wins to be scarce, but Wednesday was one of those days the Jeeps could bask in victory after it was all over.
Northeast Dubois claimed a 3-2 victory against Blue Chip Conference rival Washington Catholic, with all three points coming from the team’s three singles players for their first conference victory, and third overall, in 2022.
“We’re playing with four freshmen and just three juniors that skipped their freshman season because of COVID,” Jeeps coach Gabbie Chinn said. “So, as juniors, this is really only their second year of tennis. So, experience has hurt us in some areas, so, we’re working on it.
“The good thing about that is when you have little experience coming in, there’s a pretty big jump between the first match of the year and the last match of the year in improvement,” Chinn continued. “So, we’re getting to watch first-hand the improvement from first match to last match.”
Chinn told The Herald that footwork doesn’t come naturally to those who haven’t always played tennis, and she thinks footwork and movement on the court is coming along better.
Junior Elizabeth Schepers took care of business in the No. 1 singles with a 6-3, 6-3 win against Cardinals senior Jennifer Lopez. Schepers didn’t always get her serves or her returns over the net, but she found her way.
“She’s been really consistent,” Chinn said of Schepers. “She played a really tough match last night (against Pike Central junior Jaime Sallee) and grinded it out in the third set. That’s what we look for out of Elizabeth to just grind and keep hitting balls in.
“When her footwork is in place, her stroke looks really good and if her feet get a little bit lazy, then her strokes don’t look as good,” she added. “So, as long as she’s out there, she works hard, she doesn’t give up on anything — she grinds out a lot of wins.”
Then there’s junior Sydney Roach, who took a 6-4 win in the first set against Washington Catholic freshman Karen Kanapia, only to come away with a 6-0 triumph in the latter set.
“It looked like there was a little bit of a mental break there in the first set that had her actually on the losing end for a second in the first set,” Chinn said. “But Sydney — consistency is what she does. She puts the ball in play, she picks her winners really well, she knows when to tee off on a ball and put it away, and she knows just when to put the ball back on the court.”
Junior Jessa Braunecker prevailed with a 6-1, 6-1 victory against fellow junior Molly Brown of the Cardinals. Northeast Dubois fielded all freshmen in doubles compared to all juniors that Washington Catholic had.
Leah Klawitter and Ibett Moreno fell to Mya Cline and Chloe Garland, 6-2, 6-2, in No. 1 doubles play, while No. 2 action Mya Ziegler and Isabel Sermersheim go for the Jeeps against the team of Kayleen Arriaza and Celeste Santiago for the Cardinals, who won this one, 6-3, 6-4.
“Catholic has got a really strong one doubles team, that’s where they’ve put their strength,” Chinn said. “They’re going to go try to win some matches with number one doubles, and that’s great. We’ve got inexperience playing doubles, and when you don’t quite understand the movement, experience can trump movement in those scenarios.”
Chinn said her singles lineup is probably set for the rest of the season. However, she’s shuffling around her doubles lineups, and noted that who plays with who in doubles will likely look different in today’s scheduled match with Heritage Hills at home as part of a trend for the next two-to-three matches on which combinations look best for the sectional.
“I look for singles to have three really solid matches again,” she said. “We haven’t played Heritage Hills in years. I think it always rains the day we’re supposed to play Heritage Hills. So, looking forward to seeing what they have and grinding one more out.”