North Central High School freshman Claire Reifeis found herself in a hole to start her tennis match Friday.
“I refocused and started playing more aggressive and how I needed to play,” Reifeis said.
Trailing 4-1, Reifeis won 11 of the last 12 games to top Grace Koscielski 6-4, 6-2 and help No. 7 North Central edge No. 8 Cathedral 3-2 in the sectional Friday. Rain forced the match to be moved from North Central’s outdoor courts into Five Seasons Sports Club.
Reifeis said she has played Koscielski several times in tournament play and it is usually tight.
“We made a nice adjustment down 4-1 in the first set,” said North Central coach Dan Brunette, whose Panthers advance to Tuesday’s regional at North Central against a yet-to-be-determined opponent. “Claire was a little more aggressive and I thought she moved very well.”
The Panthers (14-2) won all three singles matches.
“The three singles players for North Central played great matches,” Brunette said. “Mentally they were very tough. Obviously this is a big match and we’re a young team. We played aggressive on the big points and didn’t miss.”
At No. 2 singles, North Central freshman Caroline McAuley downed Abby Brady 6-3, 6-1. The two are cousins.
“We’ve played before and it’s always a close match,” McAuley said. “She’s a great player, too. I was hitting all my shots well and was staying mentally focused and confident. I think that is what helped me to pull the match out.”
North Central sophomore Cassie Davis topped Kelsey Kopf 6-2, 6-2 at No. 3 singles. Davis won the third clinching point.
Davis said she was a little nervous at the start of the match. But she said the key was staying focused.
“It’s hard to close out a match, but I got through it,” said Davis, who was serving to close the match.
Brunette said playing a tough schedule prepared his girls for the match. Including the tournament, North Central played No. 1 Carmel three times; Center Grove, Park Tudor and Brebeuf Jesuit twice; Hamilton Southeastern, Fishers and Guerin Catholic.
“Our schedule was packed with ranked teams. That ended up paying off in the long run,” Brunette said.
Cathedral’s No. 1 doubles team of Meredith Goshell and Caroline Combs remained unbeaten with a dominant 6-0, 6-1 win over Sydney Roach and Amy Smikle. Goshell and Combs will advance in the doubles tournament.
The Irish’s Simone Deighan and Emily Gutrich were victorious at No. 2 doubles.