Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Sports

May 12, 2012

PREP GIRLS TENNIS: One for the thumb

Falcon netters clinch fifth straight NECC title

LaGRANGE —  Collecting blue ribbons at four out of the five positions propelled the Fairfield High School girl tennis team to a fifth straight NECC championship Saturday at Lakeland.

The Falcons totaled 62 points, followed by Angola 51, Fremont 30, Central Noble 27, Westview 24, West Noble 21, Prairie Heights 17, Lakeland 8 and Churubusco 2.

Fairfield and Angola squared off in championship matches at four spots with the Falcons winning three of them.

“This never gets old. We have new girls every year,” Fairfield coach Mike Filbrun said. “We had to replace a lot of girls from last year’s team. The girls stepped up and filled in admirably.

“I would not say we dominated the tournament. We won a lot of hard-fought matches.”

The winning for the Falcons started right at the top of the lineup as senior Haley Bechtel defeated senior Marina Fernandez of Angola 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the finale at No. 1 singles.

“Haley is an exceptional athlete,” Filbrun said. “You always hear about what a great athlete she is. But she has made herself into a good tennis player by her hard work. Haley is good at assessing situations on the court and she has great court awareness.”

Bechtel’s season is remarkable when considering she suffered a torn ACL in a volleyball match at Elkhart Memorial on Sept. 27.

“It’s crazy to think I’m out here playing No. 1 singles,” she said. “I expected to be playing doubles. I feel confident out there and don’t think about the knee at all.

“The three-set final was pretty stressful. I kept my focus after losing the first set.”

Fairfield’s No. 1 doubles team of seniors Kaelin Bender and Nicole Murdoch were 6-1, 6-1 winners over Central Noble seniors Paige Lundquist and Rachel Van Gessel.

“Bender and Murdoch have had a tremendous season,” Filbrun said. “They played No. 2 a year ago and it’s a step up to No. 1. The two of them know how to play aggressive without getting above the level of their game. They are also great team leaders.”

The duo having been playing together for three years and have been NECC champions each one of those years.

“It definitely helps that we have been playing together that long,” Murdoch said. “We know each other so well. We know our strengths and weaknesses and what will help and what will not help the other on the court. We came into the tournament really ready to play and to show people we could do this.”

“It’s fun to celebrate after the match. It never gets old,” Bender said. “Nicole and I are good friends off the court. We are a part of a of a big group that hangs out together. The friendship helps us on the court. When we get mad at each other we tend to lose points.”

Sectional draws are Monday and most area sectionals will start play on Wednesday.

“Obviously we are looking to win sectional again,” Bender said. “We will be fighting for every game and we will see where that gets us.”

Other Falcon winners were junior Mary Shipley and sophomore Leah Wimmer at No. 2 doubles and junior McKenzie Hochstedler at No. 3 singles. Shipley and Wimmer were 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 winners over Angola senior Mariah Chambers and freshman Alyssa Rhodes while Hochstedler was a 6-3, 6-2 victor over Angola junior Tracy Byrne.

Angola junior Kirstyn Quandt topped Falcon freshman Lauren Streit 2-6, 7-5, 6-1 at No. 2 singles.

“Lauren is a freshman in name only,” Filbrun said. “She came in with a lot of playing experience and a lot of tournament experience. She comes from a family with a good tennis background.”

Lauren is the daughter of former Goshen Redskin standout Andy Streit.

“Andy was at Goshen wile I was in school at Fairfield,” Filbrun said. “Thank goodness I didn’t have to play him.”

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