By Jake Thompson
BROWNSBURG — For the past two seasons a Hendricks County School has hosted the Hoosier Crossroads Conference girls’ tennis tournament. Last Saturday at Brownsburg, the Bulldogs and Orioles tied for sixth in this year’s tournament.
Brownsburg equaled its 2012 performance while the Orioles improved from last season’s seventh-place finish.
Fishers (46) won, HSE (44) took second, Zionsville (40) was third, Noblesville (35) fourth, Harrison (31) took fifth followed by Avon and Brownsburg (26).
“It’s a little lower than we expected to finish,” Avon coach Stan Malless said. “What set the tone for us was an early loss against Noblesville at a key position. Overall, there are some pretty good teams and I’ll take it. We started low but finished strong in the afternoon.”
Brownsburg coach Karen Starkey liked how her team performed, but like Malless, acknowledged how difficult the HCC tournament can be.
“Finishing at sixth was better and a positive from last year,” Starkey said. “We had a couple of losses at a few spots with tiebreaks and had we converted those, we could have had a little different outcome. The key was learning from our disappointments and let them motivate us from here on out.”
Making HCC all-conference was Avon freshman Grace Langford for her second place finish. After a grueling match against a Fisher’s opponent that had lost just one match all season, Langford prevailed in the semifinals.
However, a lingering hip injury the freshman has been batting all season kept her from finishing her finals match and she withdrew.
“She was a third seed after not being able to play HSE or Fishers because of her injury during the regular season,” Malless said. “She beat the Fishers girl, but it was a long, hard-fought match and the HSE girl won both matches 6-0, 6-0 and was rested.”
Taking the tough early loss for the Orioles was the No. 2 doubles team of Brittany Berg and Audrie Hillis, who were seeded third, as they fell in the morning to a Noblesville team they had previously defeated and eventually finished seventh.
“It was the difference in about two positions,” Malless said.
Avon’s Sabrina Becker finished seventh at No. 2 singles, as did the Orioles’ No. 1 doubles squad of Mikala Hillis and Erin Pool. At No. 3 singles, Kari Thrasher placed fifth.
Brownsburg’s No. 1 doubles team of Emily Doehrman and Shelby Hornback had the same issue as Avon’s No. 2 doubles squad but with an HSE team they’d beaten earlier. The pair ended the day with the best finish possible at fifth.
“When you beat a team before and lose a tight set to lose the match it’s tough to overcome mentally,” Starkey said. “They had to really work hard to finish up strong, which they did. That was quite a challenge to overcome.”
Seeded seventh, the Bulldogs’ No. 2 doubles team of Yolandi Geldenhuis and Nikki Meade downed the two-seeded team from Fishers in their Saturday opener and placed fourth.
Brownsburg’s Nicole Weisman (No. 1 singles) and Morgan Bettner (No. 2 singles) finished seventh and sixth, respectively. At No. 3 singles, Katie Suiter placed seventh.
“Nicole had disappointing second round match involving a tiebreak against an opponent she’d beaten before and that affected her finish,” Starkey said. “She came out of that and had a dominating finals match and was a good way to end the day.”
Brownsburg and Avon meet in the first round of sectional play today beginning at 5 p.m. at Avon. The Bulldogs fell 3-2 to Mooresville in last year’s sectional final match.
“We are working towards correcting a couple points in the match to swing it another direction,” Starkey said. “This tournament was preparation for sectionals this week.”