LANSING | Pressure might be on the T.F. South girls badminton team to repeat as state champions, but the Rebels showed no signs of stress Saturday.
Playing their third tournament in eight days, the hosts won 40 of 42 matches played Saturday en route to the T.F. South Grey Invitational title.
“Being the defending champions, there is more pressure this year,” No. 1 doubles player Cassie Breshock said. “But that pressure was there last year as well because we were expected to win. With the mixture of experienced and newer players we have back this year, we should be ready for state.”
Breshock and partner Jenna Pasko looked like they were ready to make a run at a state title, dropping no games on their way to the event championship at No. 1 doubles.
Last season, Breshock and Pasko both qualified for the state finals in doubles, but each had a different partner. As a duo this year, they are looking to do more than place.
“We’re starting to build confidence the more we play together,” Breshock said. “Last year we were each other’s competition, but we are doing well and building chemistry. The talent is definitely coming through.”
The progress of Breshock and Pasko wasn’t the only reason for optimism in Lansing on Saturday. Singles standout Jessica Gomez improved to 27-0 this season, taking home the No. 1 singles title.
“I’ve been happy with the way we’re playing so far,” she said. “I’m really proud of (Breshock and Pasko). Our No.2’s are really improving and look like they’ll have a great opportunity at state.”
T.F. South also got titles from the doubles teams of Paula Rodriguez and Cameron Crosby (No. 2) plus Brittany Arreola and Jeanne Colin (No. 3).
Breanna Miller and Kristi Fisher each took home second in the No.2 and 3 singles spots, as the Rebels placed first or second in every division for the second straigh invitational.
“Things are excellent right now,” T.F. South coach Bob Tengstrand said. “We bring back or best three players from last year, and we have equal or better talent for the rest of the team. Right now, we have six girls fighting for three spots before the sectionals start.”
For Tengstrand, things are going exactly as planned. He’s been able to mix strong seniors with talented underclassmen every season since he took over, building the Rebels into one of the state’s elite programs.
“I’d like to take three seniors and three underclassmen into the sectionals every year,” Tengstrand said. “That way you continue to recycle the team every year, and you never have a down year.”