HIGHLAND | Paige Heuer had time for a few mildly superstitious rituals, but the senior Munster tennis player didn’t have many moments to absorb her final prep match in Lake County.
That’s the byproduct of a 42-minute, 6-0, 6-0 No. 1 doubles match with partner Nikki Heiniger that went to deuce just once.
“We’ve been confident going in and just been really strong as a team, going out and taking care of business,” Heuer said. “Mental toughness is just huge right now.”
Munster had its second consecutive regional and 28th overall wrapped up early and rolled to a 5-0 win over Whiting in a rematch of last year’s final to win the Highland Regional championship Wednesday evening.
“Just winning and having a good time brings everyone up together,” Munster’s other senior, Mariana Rogers, said. “With (No. 2 doubles teammate) Anisha (Vavilala) we pump each other up, and it’s an awesome feeling.
“Winning the regional wins the world to me. It’s a big step for us because we want to get to state. We feel we can do it.”
With the win Munster (19-4) advances to Saturday’s LaPorte Semistate to face the state’s No. 1 team, Carmel.
The Mustangs, with the Heuer-Heiniger duo having not dropped a game since May 10, feel they are in peak shape. They’ve been practicing hard and scrimmaging with boys team members. Their only interaction with Carmel was at the Carmel Invitational, which was not a team tournament but an individually bracketed event. The Greyhounds won it, but Munster tied for third.
After Valparaiso University recruit Heuer and Heiniger won in 42 minutes, Munster No. 3 singles player Kasey Kulesa came in next, finishing Tuesday clutch performer Maira Huizar of Whiting 6-0, 6-0 in 59 minutes. Munster No. 1 singles player Jessica Rooth clinched the win with a 6-0, 6-1 victory shortly after Kulesa.
“We’re happy to be moving on and excited and ready to play Carmel,” Munster coach Bill Heuer said. “I think everyone is playing at the top of their game, and that’s where we need to be to beat a team like Carmel.”
Whiting (16-4), which only loses two seniors, likewise got a reminder of what it takes to succeed. The Oilers battled to the handshake in every match, with freshman No. 2 singles player Brianna Baez pushing Melissa Tepperman to frustration in a long 6-2, 6-1 loss in which most games went to deuce and beyond. The No. 2 double squad of senior Lauren Markovich and sophomore Alivia Jakubowski won four games off of Rogers and Vavilala.
“Last year we came here in awe, happy to be here,” Whiting coach Arthur Young said. “This year we came to compete. Our girls came in ready. The mantra this week was play the game, not the name.”
In the individual side of the tournament, Hanover Central freshman Ivana Micic, the younger sister of state champion wrestler Stevan Micic, won for the second consecutive day. Her 6-0, 6-2 win over Clark’s Stephanie Richards to advance to the individual sectional championship today against Andrean’s Grace Cooper.
“I just stayed in the game and played my game,” Micic said. “Everything turned out how I wanted it to.
“I’m really excited because I have a chance to make it to the (individual) regional.”