Richmond and Hagerstown opened the girls tennis season against one another.
The Richmond sectional has come down to the Red Devils vs. Tigers, right back on those same Tiernan Center courts.
Both teams took 3-2 victories during Thursday’s semifinal round, setting up today’s 4:30 p.m. sectional championship showdown.
Richmond seeks a fifth consecutive sectional crown. Hagerstown aims for its first.
Doubles play was crucial for both teams Thursday night. The Tigers swept those positions to knock off Centerville, while Richmond clinched its win over Northeastern at No. 2.
Maia Van Buskirk and Juliana Qin outlasted Adriane Ullery and Ashley Jay 6-3, 5-7, 7-5 in the final — and longest — match of the day, contested as daylight slowly disappeared from Tiernan’s courts.
“They really did a nice job of playing through some adversity … and gutted out a nice victory,” RHS coach Randy Hollingsworth said of the Devils’ No. 2 doubles duo. “We have to find a way to finish.”
Hagerstown finished off its victory — the first sectional win senior Tawni Brown remembered in her four years with the Tigers — by shutting the door at doubles after trailing by a set at each spot.
Brown and Olivia Houck won 5-7, 6-2, 6-4 at No. 1 doubles, with Tiger teammates MeKayla Todd and McKenzie Fleming winning 4-6, 6-4, 7-5.
“After four years, we finally did it. I’ve never advanced in a sectional and it feels great,” Brown said.
“Every team’s goal is to be playing your best at the end of the season.”
That can certainly be said for this Hagerstown squad.
The Tigers won the Tri-Eastern Conference Tournament this past Tuesday, edging overall champion Centerville 48 points to 44.
The momentum carried over into the sectional. Hagerstown drew one of the byes — Richmond had the other — and the Tigers reversed a regular-season defeat to Centerville.
Hagerstown’s Hayley Hollenberg won at No. 2 singles Thursday. Hollenberg and both Tiger doubles teams were TEC champions this season.
“I’m very happy for them,” Hagerstown coach Stephanie Beeson said of her squad. “I want them to play well. I want them to play their best. I want to give Richmond a match.”
Northeastern did that in the semifinal, taking the defending sectional champion to the limit.
They split the first two singles spots, with Northeastern’s Hannah McKissick winning No. 1 and Richmond’s Cami Jones winning No. 2.
Taylor Benner won another three-set thriller for the Knights at No. 3, while Richmond’s No. 1 doubles duo of Emma Lady and Krissy Kramer dispatched their opponents 6-0, 6-0.
“It’s a win,” Hollingsworth said. “We gutted out a win and had a couple of girls who were injured, but it’s a win and we play another day.”
Centerville’s Shelby Minhinnett is 2-0 at No. 1 singles in the sectional.
The Red Devils (11-2) halted Hagerstown 4-1 on April 11. The Tigers (13-5) won at No. 1 singles that day, with Richmond taking the other four positions.
Hagerstown’s lineup has shifted some since that match, with a different No. 3 singles and No. 2 doubles combination.
“They’ve come a long way,” Hollingsworth said of the Tigers. “They’ve got some momentum going with winning the TEC Tournament and they’re playing really well right now. We’re going to have our hands full.”
Josh Chapin: (765) 973-4463 firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/JoshChapinPI
TIGERS 3, BULLDOGS 2
SINGLES- 1. Minhinnett (CEN) def. S.Houck 6-4, 6-2; 2. Hollenberg (H) def. Stamper 6-4, 6-1; 3. Walther (CEN) def. McFarland 6-1, 6-1.
DOUBLES- 1. Brown and O.Houck (H) def. Stewart and Lakes 5-7, 6-2, 6-4; 2. Todd and Fleming (H) def. Wolf and Uphaus 4-6, 6-4, 7-5.
RED DEVILS 3, KNIGHTS 2
SINGLES- 1. McKissick (NE) def. Harrison 6-1, 6-2; 2. Jones (RHS) def. Hester 6-2, 6-0; 3. Benner (NE) def. Owens 3-6, 6-2, 6-3.
DOUBLES- 1. Lady and Kramer (RHS) def. Adams and McDaniel 6-0, 6-0; 2. Van Buskirk and Qin (RHS) def. Ullery and Jay 6-3, 5-7, 7-5.