MUNSTER | By the time Jessica Rooth took the court for her sectional championship match against Hammond's Cynthia Rodriguez, the Munster junior had already accomplished a career first Thursday night.
The Mustangs easily won their 37th straight sectional title with 5-0 sweeps over Highland in the semifinals and Hammond in the championship match, but it was a semifinal win that had Rooth smiling from ear-to-ear.
Rooth beat close friend and Highland senior Vanessa Madrigal 6-2, 7-5 in the semifinals, the first time in her career that Rooth has beaten Madrigal.
"She always beats me, so this was extra special," Rooth said. "Playing matches against friends is really tough, but I'm so happy that I was able to finally get her."
Rooth barely broke a sweat in a 6-0, 6-0 victory over Rodriguez in the championship match as the Mustangs (17-4) dropped just two games against Hammond.
"It never gets old," Munster coach Bill Heuer said of winning another sectional title.
The Mustangs returned a lot of firepower from last season's semistate team, but Heuer singled out the play of freshman Anisha Vavilala on Thursday night. Vavilala cracked the varsity lineup midway through the year when she started teaming with senior Mariana Rogers.
"Those two just have such athleticism," Heuer said. "Anisha has grown with each match and her best tennis will be played in her upcoming matches."
The Wildcats (8-6) survived a pair of marathon doubles matches to move past Gavit 3-2 in the semifinals. Despite the result, second-year coach Jessica Portney spoke highly of Hammond's effort against Munster in the title match.
"We were 1-8 last year and now we finished over .500," Portney said. "We put up a good fight and I'm very proud of my girls."