Until the title was hers, Maeve Koscielski treated Saturday’s singles tennis match like any other this season.
Watching the Cathedral sophomore play, anyone without context might never have guessed her match with Lauren Marx of Evansville Mater Dei was for the state singles title. Koscielski never lost focus, even when she fell back in a few games.
“I didn’t know what to expect (from her), but once I warmed up and played a couple of games, I got my rhythm and was fine,” Koscielski said.
Koscielski’s rhythm beat to a steady, definite tune Saturday afternoon until she was crowned state singles champion following a 6-0, 6-0 victory — the state’s first shutout victory in the final since at least 1974-75 — at Park Tudor. She finished the season 27-0 record, including 11 consecutive postseason wins.
“She’s a monster,” Cathedral coach Mark Noe said. “Last year, she was a very good player. This year, she’s a great player because she worked on things she had to work on. I can see so much improvement just in her mental demeanor.”
While still convincing, Koscielski didn’t down Providence freshman Halli Trinkle in the semifinals without giving up a few games. She advanced to the finals with a 6-2, 6-3 win but tightened her focus for the finals a few hours later.
Her confidence gleamed, especially in the final game of the second set when she and Marx battled back to deuce four times before Koscielski finally put it away.
“It would have been easy to give up a game, but she did not want to lose today,” Roe said. “I give mom and dad the credit. (They) take her to tournaments, and it’s the post- and preseason that got her going.”
Maeve’s father, Paul, won’t deny he and his wife had a hand in getting their daughters started on tennis. He and his wife got out on the court regularly when they were younger. He played for the University of Texas from 1985-89, serving as the team’s captain, while his wife, Amy, played for Cathedral from 1984-88.
But now? He gives all the credit to the girls.
“We’ve obviously encouraged them over the years, (but) a lot of it’s been on their own,” he said.
North Central wins doubles title
Crowds roared on after officials draped Koscielski’s championship medal around her neck as the doubles matchup raged on into three sets between North Central’s pair of Autumn Clark and Caroline McAuley and Guerin Catholic’s Ashley Jonathan and Reiley Harrington.
After taking their feet off the gas near the end of the first set and through the second, Clark and McAuley soared back in the third and won 6-4, 1-6, 6-1 to bring North Central its first state doubles title since 2007-08.
“They had beaten us during the year in straight sets, so I knew it was going to be a battle,” North Central coach Dan Brunette said. “Third set, we played pretty efficient tennis, didn’t miss many returns, made a lot of first serves.
“Guerin fought pretty hard, but I’ll say, our strategy, I thought the girls implemented it pretty well under pressure.”