From 2010 to 2012, the Indiana girls’ tennis team had a wealth of success in the regular season, only to get knocked out of the playoffs right away.
Thanks to a deeper pool of talent, things are certainly different this year for the Indians.
Behind its well-rounded lineup, Indiana won its first team playoff match since it dropped to Class AA three years ago, defeating Mount Pleasant, 4-1, in a WPIAL first-round match Thursday afternoon at the White Township Recreation Complex.
Indiana clinched the win before the No. 1 and 2 singles matches were even finished. Carly Morrow breezed to a 6-0, 6-1 win in No. 3 singles, while Kate Palko and Kylie Horvath (7-5, 6-2) and Margaux Marcus and Eugina Chun (6-3, 6-4) won in doubles to lock up Indiana’s spot in the WPIAL Class AA quarterfinals before its top two players had a say.
“It’s an accomplishment for the girls,” said Indiana coach Ray Goss. “You go undefeated in the conference two years in a row, you won the conference three years in a row. Finally, now you’ve taken another step.”
The Indians’ top singles player, Lucy Bujdos lost, 6-2, 4-6, with a 10-5 tiebreaker, in a modified match.
, and Megan Clawson won, 3-6, 6-4 (10-8) after Indiana’s ticket had already been punched on the other three courts.
Indiana improved to 13-1 on the season, and Mount Pleasant finished at 12-4.
“The pressure was off,” Goss said. “We won No. 3 singles easily, and we won No. 1 and 2 doubles. Carly Morrow had been playing No. 1 doubles, but she’s so steady, she bores them to death. She just gets the ball back, gets the ball back, and she won (singles) easily. We moved Kate Palko to doubles and that didn’t hurt us at all. I think we strengthened both positions.
“We’re so close starting at No. 2 and 3, you could almost put someone here or there and the results would be the same. Our No. 2 doubles team plays the No. 1 doubles team very close, and that’s good.”
Marcus and Chun found out that their opponents, Kayla Queer and Madie Kromer, were 15-0 in the regular season.
“Frankly, I watched (Mount Pleasant) warm up and I said, they’re not bad,” Goss said. “I knew we were better. But you have to prove it on the court. That doesn’t mean you’re going to do it. You just try to get them to relax, because they feel the pressure.”
With that pressure, opponents from generally stronger sections spelled trouble for the Indians the last three years after strong regular seasons.
“My total inspiration speech before was, ‘Breathe,’” Goss said, “because a lot of times you forget to do it. You’re out there, you get tense. I don’t know if they did it, but it was good. It comes down to talent. I think our talent’s a little better, a little stronger, a little deeper, and maybe the team we played wasn’t quite as good as the one last year. That’s the draw.”
Indiana gets a much tougher test Monday, when the Indians, seeded seventh in the 16-team bracket, visit second-seeded Greensburg Central Catholic for a quarterfinal match.
“Monday we’ve got our hands full,” Goss said. “They’ve got two sisters at Nos. 1 and 2 and they’re almost unbeatable. But that’s OK. We’re there. That’s the big thing, just winning that one, getting that monkey off you’re back. That was a big one.”