HIGHLAND | There isn’t much of a rivalry between Munster and Whiting in girls tennis.
“We’re trying to make it one,” Whiting coach Arthur Young said. “Every year our goal is to get here and face them. They’re on top. The goal is to eventually unseat them.”
Whiting (16-3) faces Munster (18-4) in today’s championship of the Highland Regional after both teams won their Tuesday semifinals. It’s a rematch of last year’s final, which Munster won.
The Oilers squeaked into the finals after No. 3 singles player Maira Huizar outlasted Andrean’s Sarah Muha 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 in the decisive match after all other scores were set.
A sophomore, Huizar regretted her three-mile run Monday night. The cross country runner took a stroll around the neighborhood to enjoy the nice weather.
“It definitely didn’t help,” an exhausted Huizar said. “I’m tired. (Muha) beat one of the girls I lost to this year, so I guess that shows improvement. I honestly wasn’t expecting to win. It’s Andrean. It’s a big school.”
An alternate last year, Huizar ended up being the key cog in a second consecutive regional title match berth by changing her approach after a first-set loss. She wore down Muha in the sun to keep her team’s season alive.
“I’m happy we’re all in the finals,” Huizar said. “We’re determined and hard-working.”
Andrean (9-6), which won its first sectional since 2008, will have its No. 1 doubles team (McKenzie Shelly and Kathleen Sievert) and No. 1 singles player Grace Cooper alive in the individual legs of the state tournament Thursday.
“It’s sad we’re not going on as a team, but I hope I can continue to go far in the singles area,” Cooper said. “Andrean has come so far and totally turned around as a team.”
The 59ers led 2-1 before Whiting freshman No. 2 singles player Brianna Baez -- the daughter of former Highland head coach and current Whiting assistant Adam Baez -- won 6-1, 7-5.
“I’m really glad they all persevered,” Young said.
Munster also didn’t have an easy time.
Although the No. 1 doubles team of Paige Heuer and Nikki Heiniger were off the court before anyone else finished their first set, everyone else had to sweat for their wins.
Crown Point (12-4) stole a point when Abby Kvachkoff won 6-2, 6-2 at No. 2 singles, but the rest of the match was Munster’s.
Mariana Rogers and Anisha Vavilala had the most hiccups, but the No. 2 doubles team has only been playing together for a month.
Vavilala, a freshman, came up from the junior varsity after a roster defection.
“Every game’s gotten tougher, but we’ve gotten tougher along with them,” Vavilala said. “(Rogers) is amazing and brings me up. I’m happy to have a partner like her.”
Vavilala has blended in after helping Wilbur Wright Middle School to three consecutive undefeated seasons. The tandem only has one loss in the last month. They won 6-3, 6-4 Tuesday.
“That’s the sign of a good (doubles) team, when they didn’t bring their best game and still did what it took to get the win,” Munster coach Bill Heuer said. “All our girls know what’s at stake. We’re going to have to come out and take care of business like we always have.”