By William Cross
For The Herald Bulletin
ELWOOD, Ind. —
The Pendleton Heights Lady Arabians swept their way to an impressive 5-0 win over host Elwood in the first round of tennis sectionals Wednesday at the Max Hoppel Tennis Complex.
Pendleton’s three singles players lost only one game combined in dominating a young Elwood squad.
“We played as well as we could play,” coach Hoppel said afterward. “We’re young and inexperienced and Pendleton is just good.” The match resembled a similar 5-0 win by the Lady Arabians last week over the Lady Panthers. Pendleton coach Royce Hammel was happy with the win and the way the Lady Arabians seized control of the match. “We had just played them last week,” Hammel said. “We were confident, but you still have to go out and play the point”.
Pendleton’s Carly Wilson took the No. 1 singles match 6-0, 6-0 over Mackenzi Boston, at No. 2 Emma McCardwell scored a 6-1, 6-0 win over Carly VanBuskirk and No. 3 Lauren Robertson won 6-0, 6-0 over Courtney Blankenship.
In doubles play, Pendleton’s No. 1 duo of Audrey and Kayleigh Corn beat Maddi Runyan and Jordyn Wright 6-1, 6-0 and No. 2 Lina Larsson and Haley Augsburger defeated Taylor Penn and Tiffanie Hoel 6-0, 6-3.
Hammel was also pleased with his team’s solid play at the right time of the year. “I think we are starting to peak a little bit at certain spots of the lineup and I am optimistic,” he said. “Our doubles are continuously getting better and our singles pretty much carried us through the year.”
Hoppel also saw positives in his team. “I’m really happy with how we struck the ball. We’re definitely not on their (Pendleton’s) level, but they (Elwood) probably stayed on the court longer than what everybody thought they would.” Hoppel, the only girls’ tennis coach in the history of the school, finished his 31st year at the helm for Elwood and still has the competitive fire at 69.
“I draw so much energy from these kids,” a smiling Hoppel said. “Someday that’s going to end, maybe another year, maybe two years, but I love them. I just have great kids and as long as I get that kind of kid coming out, I’m going to be here.” Elwood will lose seniors Penn and Hoel.
For Pendleton, the win sets up a county tourney rematch with Anderson that the Lady Arabians won 4-1. “We played them in the county tournament and squeaked by 4-1,” said Hammel. “Two of those matches went to third set tiebreakers and we got both of them. I told the girls it’s a new season and you have to go out and prove themselves again.”
The match will be at 4:30 today at Highland Middle School. The winner will advance to the finals on Friday, also at Hi