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Going The Distance: New Pal wins county tennis crown

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Girls County Tennis at New Palestine High School. Saturday, April 20, 2013. (Photo/Tom Russo/Daily Reporter)
Girls County Tennis at New Palestine High School. Saturday, April 20, 2013. (Photo/Tom Russo/Daily Reporter)

Girls County Tennis at New Palestine High School. Saturday, April 20, 2013. (Photo/Tom Russo/Daily Reporter)
Girls County Tennis at New Palestine High School. Saturday, April 20, 2013. (Photo/Tom Russo/Daily Reporter)

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.

“We knew it was going to be a close match again, and it was,” New Palestine coach Chris Hardin said. “The JV consolation and finals were finishing up in some places today and they were still out there fighting, and that was a huge swing for us. If it goes the other way, we’ve both got four wins and we’re right there even.”

The early losses put Mt. Vernon in a hole. The Marauders trailed 15-9 heading into the championship and consolation matches.

Mt. Vernon senior Kelsi Tammen took care of NP’s Jen Roberts, 6-3, 6-3 to win the No. 1 singles title. And Krista Shockley and Maddie Walrod beat the Dragons’ Abby Poole and Kylar Litteral, 6-3, 6-3, to give the Marauders a county doubles win.

In last year’s county championship, Roberts beat Tammen in straight sets for the No. 2 singles title.

“Super proud of Kelsi,” MV coach Gabe Muterspaugh said. “She has embraced her role of captain and as our best player.

“She is an extremely smart player and just out works her opponent. I can’t say enough about how proud I am and how she dominated county. Her best tennis is still to come this year, too.”

The wins by Tammen and Shockley-Walrod, along with a pair of MV consolation victories, made the team score 23-21, in New Palestine’s favor, following the Dragons’ wins at No. 3 singles and No. 1 doubles.

That left the Beaty-Schafer showdown as the deciding factor on a chilly, windy day that began at 9 a.m. and wrapped up with Beaty’s win approaching 4 p.m.

Beaty, a junior, was aware of the stakes as she battled fellow junior Schafer, with all other matches complete, and all eyes on their court.

“Definitely, with all the people surrounding me on all three sides, there was definitely more pressure,” she said. “But, I’ve been in a lot of situations like that with some other tournaments, so that helped.”

Beaty was last year’s county JV champ at No. 1 singles, while Saturday’s victorious No. 1 doubles team of Spearing and Miller were the JV No. 1 doubles winners a year ago, and No. 3 singles titlist LeBeau was the No. 2 singles JV winner.

As evidenced by three-set wins all around, the former JV Dragons have taken well to their varsity roles.

“Our No. 1 doubles was huge today,” Beaty said. “And Kristi really came out, she fought, she battled. I thought she did a really great job.”

Mt. Vernon, meanwhile, hasn’t quite hit on the perfect formula. But, adjustments are part of the Marauders-Dragons rivalry.

Last year, New Palestine won the county title, then lost to Mt. Vernon in the sectional championship.

In 2011, the Marauders claimed county medals, then lost to the Dragons in the sectional. Muterspaugh, the Marauders’ veteran coach, vowed to stop at nothing to prevent a New Palestine county-sectional sweep.

“We will play better than this at sectional, I can guarantee that,” he said. “We’ll keep working with this lineup, but if this lineup doesn’t work, we’ll move as many people around as we have to.”



Team scores: New Palestine 27, Mt. Vernon 21, Greenfield-Central 12, Eastern Hancock 0

Championship matches:

No. 1 singles

Kelsi Tammen (MV) def. Jen Roberts (NP), 6-3, 6-3

No. 2 singles

Nicole Beaty (NP) def. Allie Schafer (MV), 7-5, 4-6, 6-4

No. 3 singles

Kristi LeBeau (NP) def. Alli Frazier (GC), 6-2, 6-0

No. 1 doubles

Danielle Spearing/Kara Miller (NP) def. Megan Morley/Calyn Pope (GC), 6-2, 7-5

No. 2 doubles

Maddie Walrod/Krista Shockley (MV) def. Abby Poole/Kylar Litteral (NP), 6-3, 6-3


Junior Varsity

Team scores: New Palestine 27, Mt. Vernon 21, Greenfield-Central 12, Eastern Hancock 0


No. 1 singles

Molly Laughlin (MV)

No. 2 singles

Addison Eads (MV)

No. 3 singles

Emily Kiefer (NP)

No. 1 doubles

Olga Vlashyn/Julie Hilton (NP)

No. 2 doubles

Jamie Mittman/Erika Vannarsdall (NP)

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