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Corydon rackets top Crawford

Corydon rackets top Crawford
Corydon rackets top Crawford
Corydon Central senior McKenzie Hess returns a shot against Crawford County’s Melonie Kopp. Hess won in straight sets 7-5, 6-1. Photo by Wade Bell
Wade Bell, Sports Writer

Both the Crawford County and Corydon Central tennis teams have had their struggles this year on the court. Both teams have several players with little to no varsity experience after last year was canceled due to COVID-19. That factor turned the match into a real battle with the Lady Panthers edging out Crawford County by a 4-1 decision.

“I think both teams fought really hard,” said Corydon Central coach Joseph Hinton. “We had a match go into three sets. Crawford County has some pretty good girls on their team and they’re young, so they’re going to be a team to look out for in the future. But I thought both teams fought really hard and our team especially, they were able to perservere through the weather and through all of the extra points we had to play.”

“Most of my girls have not played since middle school because of COVID, so they’re still very young and still learning and getting experience,” said Crawford County coach Pam Beckman. “I lost three seniors last year. I had one returning junior that played some JV, Jadyn Holzbog. She played her freshman year and played some JV matches but has very little of the upper level varsity experience.”

The Lady Panthers dominated in the doubles classes. In No. 1 doubles, Kimberly Wolf and Breanna Edwards made quick work of the Lady Pack’s Holzbog and Emma Cunningham, winning by a 6-3, 6-2 decision. Shalyn Mattingly and Lydia Neill easily won their match, defeating Crawford County’s Ginger Gaines and Antanollea Zaccaro with a 6-3, 6-0 score.

“I was proud of our one doubles winning 6-3, 6-2,” Hinton said. “Those are two girls that just started playing tennis this year … Both of them are new to tennis basically and are athletes. One plays basketball and one plays volleyball, and they’ve been doing a good job for us.”

In No. 1 singles play, Corydon Central’s Mckenzie Hess and Crawford County’s Melonie Kopp played through the first set with Hess pulling out a 7-5 win. In the second set, weather conditions began to deteriorate and Hess dominated with a 6-1 win for the match.

In No. 2 singles, Corydon Central’s Emma Boone dominated in the first set over Crawford County’s Mary Wetzel, winning 6-1. The second set was much closer, as it took a tie-breaker to determine a winner, with Boone getting the win 7-6.

“I think the girls are struggling with their confidence because they’ve not been able to win and get a (team) win,” Beckman said. “We’ve had a few wins individually throughout the season, and that’s been good.”

As the rain and wind continued to increase in intensity, Hinton said it made the play a lot more difficult.

“It has to be absolutely tough on them,” Hinton said. “You’ve got wet clothes happening. You’ve got temperatures dropping, The wind is blowing. The ball is being affected by the wind and where it goes. The water is making the balls heavier so it’s how the ball is hit on the racket. There’s a lot of factors that play into it with this weather.

“But good athletes are able to persevere through any kind of situation,” he said. “Tennis is a little different than other sports that I coach, but it’s the same thing. You’ve got to battle through the adversity and get to where you need to be to accomplish your goals.”

The longest match of the day came between Crawford County’s Mackenzie Menke and Corydon Central’s Alyssa Harmon, taking three tie-breakers to complete. Menke won the first set with a 7-6 score but fell in the second set 6-7. The rain then turned into a downpour as the pair tried to finish their match in set three. Both players shook off the rain and wind and kept the third set tight. Menke won the set and match 7-6.

“I thought Mackenzie (Menke) did a good job today of battling through a tough situation with playing three tie-breakers to win and in the rain,” Beckman said. “That will definitely help. We have a tournament this Saturday so, hopefully, that will give us a lot more confidence and a lot better play on the court.”

“I believe our No. 1 singles, McKenzie Hess, who is our only senior, did a really good job today,” said Hinton. “She started out a little slow and won 7-5, but she took that second set 6-1 and really dominated.

“Overall, I thought our top seven did a good job today,” Hinton said. “Emma Boone came out with her first victory in two singles. Alyssa Harmon went into three sets in three singles; she’s a freshman. Emma is just a sophomore. Our two doubles, Shalyn Mattingly and Lydia Neill, played really well and got another victory for them. That’s just a sophomore and freshman.”

Both coaches said what is needed the most for their young teams is more experience and confidence to improve their games.

“We came out with a victory today, and I’ll take away that our girls are starting to battle and our girls are starting to realize what they want when it comes to tennis,” Hinton said. “We’re seeing them work hard together and seeing them fight for what they want. It shows me they’re actually wanting to be here. When you get athletes that are willing to be there, that’s when you can start turning programs into successful programs.”

“We’re definitely way better than we were at the beginning of the season, but we still just keep falling short,” Beckman said. “Our main thing this year is to improve our skill and the mental aspects of the game. We’re looking at next year and the following year because this is an experience and a building year. We can’t expect realistically to win every match because we’re small and we’re young. A lot of girls out there have a lot more experience and a lot more awareness on the court. So, this year is a teaching year. We hope to translate that next season on the court to where we should be a lot better and much more competitive.”

No. 1 Singles – McKenzie Hess (Cory) def. Melonie Kopp 7-5, 6-1

No. 2 Singles – Emma Boone (Cory) def. Mary Wetzel 6-1, 7-6

No. 3 Singles – Mackenzie Menke (CC) def. Alyssa Harmon 7-6, 6-7, 7-6

No. 1 Doubles – Kimberly Wolf and Breanna Edwards (Cory) def. Jadyn Holzbog and Emma Cunningham 6-3, 6-2

No. 2 Doubles – Shalyn Mattingly and Lydia Neill (Cory) def. Ginger Gaines and Antanollea Zaccaro 6-3, 6-0

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