May 22—LIGONIER — For the second-straight season, the Westview girls tennis team is sectional champions.
Just like how they did in 2019, the Warriors swept Lakeland, 5-0, Saturday to bring home the Sectional 46 trophy. No sectional champions were crowned in 2020 due to the pandemic canceling the season.
It is the 14th girls tennis sectional championship in Westview program history.
“It feels good,” Westview coach Carrie Clark said. “These girls worked really hard. I’m super proud of them.”
It took less than an hour for Westview to clinch the title at West Noble High School. The top two individual players for the Warriors, No. 1 singles Paige Riegsecker and No. 2 singles Madeline Stults, both won in 6-0, 6-0 matches. Then, the No. 1 doubles team of Hallie Mast and Ella Clark finished off a 6-3, 6-0 win to officially win the championship for Westview.
The Warriors had to win three team matches to win the sectional title, with their toughest test in the opener against East Noble. The Knights and Westview were the only teams in the sectional with winning records, so whoever won that match would be in the driver’s seat to win the whole sectional.
Westview won, 4-1, over East Noble, then cruised to 5-0 wins over Central Noble and Lakeland in the semifinals and final, respectively. The Lakers beat the host Chargers, 5-0, in the other semifinal match Thursday.
Even with perceived easier opponents in the final two rounds of the sectional, coach Clark knew how important it was to still come out and take care of business.
“Anything can happen tournament time, so we knew that we couldn’t totally relax,” Clark said. “You saw a little bit of that (Saturday); we struggled, mentally, a little bit in the beginning. But we knew that we had to play our game in order to win this, so we put importance on all the matches.”
The only match to go three sets Saturday was the No. 2 doubles contest. Lakeland’s Carly Rasbaugh and Jeyda Brim won the first set, 7-5, over Westview’s Rochelle Miller and Lillian Eash. The Warrior combo responded strongly after the first set, however, winning 6-1 and 6-3 in the final two sets to claim victory.
Even in defeat, Lakeland coach Michael Rasbaugh was proud of how Carly Rasbaugh and Brim competed.
“For them to come out and win that first set, that was huge for us,” coach Rasbaugh said. “It gave them confidence that, ‘Hey, we can play with a really good 2-doubles team from Westview.’ It was nice to see that we were able to do that. Kind of wish the outcome was the other way, but you’ll have that.”
Lakeland finishes the season with a 4-17 record. Although the Lakers were swept Saturday, Rasbaugh thought his players played better than the scorecards read.
“The girls played great, all the way through; our 1-singles all the way to our 2-doubles,” Rasbaugh said. “Everybody played a great match. The scores don’t show it, but there was a lot of deuces. Just couldn’t get over that hump.”
Westview’s other victory Saturday came at No. 3 singles, with Nicole Miller winning 6-1, 6-2. The strides all three Warrior singles players have made this season has stuck out in Clark’s eyes.
“We’ve seen a lot of growth in our singles lineup, specifically,” Clark said. “Paige Riegsecker, Maddy Stults, Nikki Miller: none of them had ever played high school singles matches before. They’ve taken a lot of lessons, but they never had match experience. … They’re just maturing as players. They’re learning how to play matches instead of just being good at tennis.”
The Warriors (11-5) now advance to the Northridge regional, where they will face a familiar foe in the regional semifinals in Fairfield (14-0). Westview played the Falcons on April 29, with Fairfield emerging with a 4-1 win. The two teams also saw each other at a couple of individual spots during the Northeast Corner Conference tournament, which was also won by the Falcons.
Clark thinks that having that familiarity should help against an undefeated Fairfield team.
“We’re taking notes in all of those matches and figuring out what we have to do if we need them again,” Clark said. “(Fairfield) is a really good team. We know that we have to play our best to have a shot; we don’t want to take anything away from them. If we play 100% our best tennis, we have a fighting chance.”
The regional begins Tuesday at Northridge High School. The other semifinal match pits No. 16 Northridge (14-0) against Angola (13-1). Both matches go simultaneously at 5:00 p.m., with the regional final set for Wednesday at 5:00 p.m. back at Northridge.
2021 Girls Tennis Sectional 46 — championship match
Westview 5, Lakeland 0
No. 1 singles: Paige Riegsecker (WV) def. Elizabeth Jennings (LL), 6-0, 6-0
No. 2 singles: Madeline Stults (WV) def. Lillian Schackow (LL), 6-0, 6-0
No. 3 singles: Nicole Miller (WV) def. Brooklynn Olinger (LL), 6-1, 6-2
No. 1 doubles: Hallie Mast/Ella Clark (WV) def. Laura Eicher/Amelia Trump (LL), 6-3, 6-0
No. 2 doubles: Rochelle Miller/Lillian Eash (WV) def. Carly Rasbaugh/Jeyda Brim (LL), 5-7, 6-1, 6-3
Northridge Girls Tennis Regional — schedule
Tuesday: Northridge (14-0) vs. Angola (13-1); Westview (11-5) vs. Fairfield (14-0); both matches 5:00 p.m.
Wednesday: Championship match, 5:00 p.m.
Austin Hough can be reached at [email protected] or at 574-538-2360. Follow him on Twitter at @AustinHoughTGN.