It came down to the final match to decide the winner of the South Putnam and Greencastle girls' tennis season opener. It came down to South's Whitney Warren against Tiger Cub Marta Torre. The outcome? It was nine years in the making for South Putnam girls' tennis.
"It feels so good. We always start out with Greencastle and it's always the toughest match, them and Northview. To finally beat one of them feels good," South Putnam head coach Johnnie Briones said.
The conditions were far from perfect, with a brisk wind blowing throughout the matches. Balls either danced in the breeze or nosedived to the court in protest.
In addition to Warren, South Putnam's No. 3 player Liz Mink picked up a come from behind win against Greencastle's Emma Kaiser. The match proved to be one of the more lively matches, with both players making the other work for every hit. Mink defeat Kaiser 3-6, 6-0 and 6-2.
South also took the No. 2 doubles match as Cassie Davis and Megan Criss defeated Kristen Flint and Katie Collins 6-2 and 6-4 to move the Eagles into a position to win.
Greencastle cruised through their No. 1 singles and doubles matches.
Kelsey Hennette used her power and ability to position the ball to defeat Eagle Chelsea Clark. Hennette was able to drop shots in front of Clark and then fire returns past her to keep her in constant motion.
Samantha Provine and Carol Lafoe won the No. 1 doubles match 6-1 and 6-4 over Megan Klotz and Samantha Callahan.
"It's really early in the season," GHS head coach Trish Lowe said. "I think that both teams did a really good job for this part of the season and South Putnam has really improved. You can tell they spent a lot of time working on tennis this winter and I think there were some really nice matches."
After the match, Briones spoke about his team's dedication in the off-season and how they are reaping the benefits.
"Those girls put a lot of time into it in the off-season and it's made a difference," he said. "They are just so confident this year too. They're all really excited and to start off like this is great."
He also expressed how proud of the effort from Warren he was. She was visibly drained in the final set and let her coach know, but he encouraged her to keep battling.
"She was really nervous and she knew what was on the line. I'm really proud of her," Briones said. "I also liked the way Liz Mink battled back. She got down in that first set and battled back and won."
A couple areas of concerned Lowe addressed after the contest were the team's serving and if she might not have her doubles pairing exactly where they need to be.
"Doubles are difficult because you have to complement your partner's weaknesses by your strengths," Lowe said. "I am pretty happy with what we did in singles but in doubles, although Carol (Lafoe) and Savannah (Provine) did a good job and got the win, and at No. 2 doubles we lost and we've got a lot of doubles kids here. I'm just not sure that we're in the right places yet.
"We have lots of things we need to work on. We need to work on strategies. We definitely need to work on our serve, from player one through player 21. I'm pleased about some things but obviously it a good start for us," she concluded.
A jubilant Briones was singing the praises of his opponent as well as his team after the match. Getting the win against what he referred to before the season as their nemesis, Briones couldn't have been happier.
"Trish just does a great job down there. I just have a lot of respect for her and she does so well with that program. To come in and get a win from them is just awesome," he commented.
South Putnam will travel to Turkey Run at 4:30 p.m. today while Greencastle travels to Rockville at 4:30 p.m. Thursday.
At South Putnam
South Putnam 3, Greencastle 2
Singles -- Hennette (GHS) def. Clark (SP) 6-2, 6-0; Warren (SP) def. Torre (GHS) 4-6, 6-1, 6-4; Mink (SP) def. Kaiser (GHS) 3-6, 6-0, 6-2.
Doubles -- Birt/Provine (GHS) def. Klotz/Callahan (SP) 6-1, 6-4; Criss/Davis (SP) def. Flint/Collins 6-2, 6-4.
Next match -- South Putnam will travel to Turkey Run at 4:30 p.m. today while Greencastle travel to Rockville at 4:30 p.m. Thursday.