PORTAGE | Valparaiso girls tennis coach Tim Shideler said the key for his team to beat Portage would be to get a fast start, and that’s exactly what happened.
The Times No. 4 Vikings took all five first sets and won all five matches in straight sets in beating the No. 8 Indians 5-0 at the Portage sectional on Thursday.
The Vikings (14-3) will face No. 3 Chesterton in the sectional championship on Saturday morning. The Trojans beat the Vikings 3-2 in a match earlier this season.
In the first sets of the five matches, Valparaiso allowed Portage (10-7) to win just three games.
“We talk about coming out with a good start, and they did that,” Shideler said. “I think it really helps when everyone’s relaxed right at the start to come out and hit as hard as you can right at the start, and they did that.”
At No. 1 singles, Kelly Kennedy won the final eight games to beat Kacie McGuire 6-1, 2, 6-0.
Caitlin Kennedy never trailed against Amanda Haupt, winning 6-0, 6-2 at No. 2 singles.
In No. 3 singles, Rachel Willing dropped the opening game to Lauren Zack and then won 12 of the next 13 games to take the match 6-1, 6-1.
“Everybody knows everybody in Northwest Indiana,” Portage coach Joe White. “You know the teams that you have a shot at, and you know the teams that you will struggle with. This is one of the teams that we struggle with.”
The pair of Kate Spencer and Sonja Schaefer knocked off Bailey Lauritzen and Michelle Comerford 6-0, 6-3 at No. 1 doubles.
“We had played different players at No. 1 doubles and No. 3 singles before,” Shideler said of the previous match with the Indians. “What was nice about that was the players got to talk to each other about who they were playing. They got to share some information about the players they played last time, and I think that maybe helped them focus a little bit.”
At No. 2 doubles, Ava Meyer and Brooke Sever defeated Stefanie Nanney and Kaley Liang 6-0, 6-2.