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OSSIAN — Two Adams County teams advanced to the semi-final round of the IHSAA tennis sectional Saturday with opening wins Wednesday night at Norwell High School.
Adams Central turned the tables on Huntington North with a 3-2 win after losing to the Vikings 4-1 just eight days ago while Bellmont shutout South Adams 5-0.
AC coach Michael Hower noted "this was a great turnaround match for us. It was difficult approaching our sectional because even though we have a decent record (10-4), all four of our losses came from teams in our sectional. As a team though, we really feel that we didn't play our best tennis in all of these previous matches. I am very proud of all of our girls; it is just the type of night we needed. The girls seemed very comfortable and ready to prove they could do it."
The Jet victory was even more dramatic as all three of their wins came in three-set matches.
At number two singles, Jessica Ripley rallied after losing the first round to Megan Leedy 4-6 with convincing 6-1, 6-1 triumphs. Alisen Barger, at number three singles and the doubles duo of Madison Johnson and Emily Parrish won their first set, lost the second, and then recorded identical 6-3 victories in the decisive third set. Barger edged Felecia Alderman 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 while Johnson-Parrish downed Jericho Parrett and Macy Phillips 7-5, 0-6, 6-3.
Hannah Harvey and Breann Stucky found themselves down after losing 6-0 in the first set of the number two doubles match to Anne Hacker and Ashley Bard but regrouped in the second before finally falling 7-6 (7-5). Also, at number one singles, Huntington North's Taryn Wuensch handled Hali Wendel 6-1, 6-0 to continue on in the individual singles tournament.
Adams Central will now play Bluffton tonight in the semi-finals and will seek to avenge another of their four losses on the season in that match.
"Bluffton is going to be a tough match. We played them in the semifinals last year and were very fortunate to win a 3-2 match. Bellmont is really peaking right now and seemed to play a very good match against South Adams. It should be an interesting day," Hower analyzed.
Squaws Blank Stars
After struggling in its last five matches where they've won five individual rounds and lost 20, the Bellmont Squaws put together a solid evening to blank South Adams.
"I've been telling the girls that they are improving. It's just hard for the players to see it when they've gone 5-20 against the last five teams we've played. Well, four weeks ago, our number one doubles team lost in straight sets to South Adams and tonight they won in straight sets. Our number two doubles team lost to South Adams in the first match but won tonight. That shows much improvement," stressed Bellmont coach Tom Smith.
All of the BHS wins came in straight set decisions led by the dominating play in singles action by Allison Gutierrez and Alysha Helmrich. Gutierrez lassoed a 6-0, 6-0 victory from Aine O'Donnell while Helmrich took a similar decision from Mallory Eicher. Maddi Werling rounded out the singles action with a strong 6-1, 6-2 win over Alex Fox.
Doubles play found Madeline Albert and Abby Stimpson earning a 7-5, 6-3 win over Lindsey Graber and Kassy Potts at number one and Shelby Kiess and Andrea Fruchte teamed up for a 6-2, 6-3 account over Abbie Campbell and Holly Taylor.
"Madeline and Abby communicated well and never got frustrated. Andrea and Shelby hit great ground strokes but it was their net play that was stellar," Smith said.
The veteran BHS coach praised the effort of South Adams players noting "South Adams truly has wonderful girls who display sportsmanship that any team would want, but we can't show any mercy. I really believe the girls' sharp play will continue Thursday as we face Norwell."