LANSING | T.F. South came in as heavy favorites to win their own Rebel Red Invitational Badminton Tournament.
But not even the host team could have envisioned how the day would play out.
With No. 1 singles ace Jessica Gomez sitting out to rest an ankle she tweaked earlier in the week, the Rebels went 42-0 to take home the title with an 11-point cushion over their closest competitor, Lincoln-Way West.
With Gomez out coach Bob Tengstrand juggled his lineup and had the state’s top doubles team of Cassie Breshock and Jenna Pasko playing in the top two singles slots while the doubles team of Kristie Fisher and Fritzi Flores stepped into number three doubles.
“Sure, I thought we could go undefeated today but I knew there were some that would be close,” Tengstrand said. “Getting the other girls some looks has value for the state meet and the girls stepped up today.”
If finding themselves on the singles side effected Breshock and Pasko at all they didn’t let it show as neither was challenged on their way to singles titles in the top two slots.
“I always liked singles but it just worked out that I was going to be a doubles player,” Breshock said. “I enjoyed it today and its good practice for the conference tournament where we all get a chance to play both doubles and singles.”
Despite winning their third tournament of the season it’s not about winning invitational titles at this point, it’s all about getting ready to defend their state title next month.
“We feel good right now, we have a lot of strong players and we’re winning a lot,” Pasko said. “I feel like everyone is hitting their peak at the right time and that we’ll be ready to go to state this year."
Despite having the favorites to win state titles at both No. 1 singles and doubles, Tengstrand is aware that it will take more than that to repeat as state champions and is using this time to find the right combinations heading into the final weeks of the season.
“We’re still tweaking things at No. 2 singles and doubles as we go along,” Tengstrand said. “We’re focused on state right now but we’ll take all the stuff in between.”
One encouraging sign has been the play of the No. 2 doubles team of Paula Rodriguez and Cameron Crosby, who improved to 43-4 on the season on their way to taking home the title at No. 1 doubles.
“It feels good moving up to No. 1 singles and winning today, it definitely helps get us ready for state,” Crosby said. “There are still some things we need to improve on but we’ve come a long way and we’re getting better every day.”
The Rebels also got titles from the doubles teams of Brittany Arreola and Jeanne Collins (No. 2) plus Fisher and Flores (No. 3) while Brianna Walker rounded out the sweep taking home top honors at No. 3 singles.