FORT WAYNE – The Homestead girls tennis regional final between Carroll and Canterbury came down to the wire Wednesday, and the coaches were in the middle of the action.
The No. 10 Cavaliers held a 2-1 lead as the No. 3 singles match and No. 2 doubles were each about as close as they could possibly be on courts on either side of the coaches’ corridor.
Less than five minutes after Ava Vanhelfteren’s 7-6 (7-1), 6-3 win over Carroll’s Brittany Keuneke at No. 3 singles gave the Cavaliers the necessary third point to win the regional title, Eleanor McCandless and Meghana Pamidi finished Carroll’s Melissa Soden and Clarice Lopez 7-6 (7-4), 4-6, 6-4 at No. 2 doubles for a 4-1 win.
Vanhelfteren said she was unaware her match was the title winner.
The only match I ever get to watch is Chelsea (Himes) because she is right next to me, Vanhelfteren said. I would really like to watch the other matches sometimes but usually the chance doesn’t come around too often.
The No. 10 Cavaliers (18-1) will face No. 2 Indianapolis North Central (20-2) in the Concordia Semistate at 10 a.m. Saturday.
Canterbury beat Carroll (19-4) by the same 4-1 score during the regular season.
(The Chargers) brought it all the way through to the end of the match, Canterbury coach Jerry Gerig said.
What was key was the first-set tiebreakers that we won at 2 doubles and 3 singles. Those gave us a little bit, if there was any leeway, to get those sets. Knowing you have a set to play with, and we needed it at 2 doubles, was big. Had those first sets gone the other way, I think we would have been the ones constantly trying to catch them. The girls stepped up at key times.
Himes’ 6-0, 3-6, 7-5 win at No. 2 singles over Jenna Jackson gave the Cavaliers a 2-1 advantage.
I would say my consistency, my attitude, probably never changes my entire match, Himes said of the key to winning the three-setter. It is nice because I don’t have a lot of ups and downs. (The regional title) is huge, especially since I am a senior this year. It is just really exciting.
Canterbury won the regional title two years ago but fell to Homestead 3-2 in last year’s sectional finals.
We have basically the same girls back, and to see them more mature this year was exciting, Gerig said. We didn’t bring in a whole big batch of new girls to win this. It was our same girls just coming back a year stronger and a year more experienced.
The Cavs’ other win came from Leah Barnes at No. 1 singles, 6-1, 6-2 over Rachel Sutton.
I have really gotten to love my team, and I am really excited to be going to semistate, Vanhelfteren said. I never dreamed this would happen.
Carroll got its lone win at No. 1 doubles when Taylor Stanchin and Makenzie Schoeff beat Georgia Lea Williams and Jaclyn Sider.