FORT WAYNE, Ind.
Natalie Alexander and Marissa Morris have about two more weeks together as doubles partners.
The pair have been friends since they were young children and doubles partners since their sophomore year. Although they will be attending different colleges in the fall, Alexander said Saturday that she’s confident their bond will remain strong. As for their time together on the tennis court, they made sure that didn’t end just yet.
The Delta seniors won their match against Indianapolis North Central at the Fort Wayne Concordia Lutheran Semistate, improving their postseason record to 6-0 and securing their place in the doubles state tournament. The Eagles (22-3, No. 16) fell to the Panthers (17-2, No. 7) 3-2 in the team match, so Delta has been eliminated from the team competition.
Alexander and Morris (25-1) will compete in the individual doubles tournament beginning June 7 at Park Tudor. The pair played No. 2 doubles for Delta in 2011 when the Eagles went to state as a team, but this is their first time going to the individual state tournament.
“We knew whether if it was individually or as a team, we were going to get back to state,” Alexander said. “I will never forget that moment, … and to be able to relive it somewhat again, even if it’s not with my teammates, I think will be awesome.”
The duo won their match 6-3, 6-2 Saturday to earn their berth. Delta coach Tim Cleland said Alexander and Morris didn’t allow their opponents many easy points, something he felt was critical in the victory.
The Eagles also picked up a win on Saturday from their No. 2 doubles team of Teaghan Dishman and Jenny Wegener, who won 6-2, 6-4.
“All the way through our lineup and in our doubles, we’re very athletic,” Cleland said. “I think the main thing we wanted to do was take it at them. And not be tentative and wait for North Central to kind of lose but to play aggressive and go win the match on our terms. And I think we did that, I think we stepped up and hit big shots when we needed them.”
North Central won all three singles matches to ensure its victory. Delta won a combined nine games in the three matches, with six of them coming from No. 3 singles player Maggie Thompson. Thompson finished the season 23-1, and didn’t drop a set all year until Saturday.
Madison Ashman played No. 1 singles for Delta and fell 6-0, 6-1 to North Central’s Claire Reifeis. Ashley Loffer fell 6-0, 6-2 at No. 2 singles to Caroline McAuley.
Alexander and Morris now face a somewhat long layoff before they’ll play in the state tournament. Morris said maintaining an aggressive approach will be important.
“I think we’ll have the support of a lot of other teammates, and they’re going to help us practice throughout the week,” Morris said. “But being just me and Natalie, we’re just really going to have to work hard and focus on us and what we’re doing.”
Morris said they’d been hoping they would need to worry about how to prepare for state.
“We’ve had this goal for a long time, we’ve worked really hard in the offseason,” she said. “So coming here and advancing means a lot to both of us.”