NEW PALESTINE — There were three matches that went the distance at the Hancock County Girls Tennis Championships on Saturday.
In each of the three-set battles, New Palestine prevailed. And, for performing at their peak when it mattered most, the Dragons walked away with the county title.
Nicole Beaty turned back Mt. Vernon’s Allie Schafer 7-5, 4-6, 6-4 at No. 2 singles in the final match of the day to give New Palestine the crown. Beaty and the Dragons had a 23-21 lead in team points over the Marauders heading into the culminating bout.
Had Schafer prevailed, Mt. Vernon would have grabbed four points for an individual championship and, thus, the team title. Instead, New Palestine finished with 27 points, ahead of the Marauders (21), Greenfield-Central (12) and Eastern Hancock (0).
“It’s not fair to say we lost because of Allie,” MV coach Gabe Muterspaugh said. “We didn’t perform as well as we should have in a few first-round matches. That put us behind, and we had to fight back to make it as close as we did.”
Indeed, Schafer was able to make it past the semifinals with a win — over Eastern Hancock’s Hailey Carlton — while the Marauders weren’t as fortunate at two other positions.
After a random draw, New Palestine and Mt. Vernon players were pitted against each other in the No. 3 singles and No. 1 doubles semifinals. Both matches went three sets, with Kristi LeBeau scoring a 7-5, 2-6, 7-5 win for the host Dragons over Caitlin Laughlin at No. 3 singles, and the top NP doubles squad of Danielle Spearing and Kara Miller coming from behind for a 6-7, 6-4, 6-2 triumph over MV’s Rachael Kammerer and Ellen Wuerch.
LeBeau and the doubles team went on to win their championship matches over Greenfield-Central foes, earning a total of seven points each on the day. Mt. Vernon had to settle for consolation wins at those spots, for a total of four points.
In the Mt. Vernon Invitational last weekend, Laughlin beat LeBeau in two straight tiebreakers.