ANDERSON — Chloe Wenger’s passing shot not only secured the game, set and match for her and her No. 2 doubles partner Campbell Quire, it also lifted Frankton to a 3-2 victory over Lapel in Wednesday’s opening match of the Anderson Girls Tennis Sectional. The Lady Eagles advance to Thursday’s semifinals and will square off against a talented Alexandria team that swept Frankton earlier this season. But Wednesday’s win should give the Eagles some confidence as they had lost to Lapel 3-2 in their first meeting earlier this season. The Bulldogs then swept their arch-rivals 5-0 in the second meeting.
“I think it’s hard to beat a team three times no matter what sport you’re playing,” Frankton coach Stephan Hamaker said. “I think it’s easy maybe to come in a little over confident. Not saying they were but I think maybe it’s easy to when you have a 5-0 win because we weren’t close on very many of those courts in that 5-0 loss we endured.”
Lapel started off Wednesday’s match by scoring the first point as Kerith Renihen defeated Frankton’s Addie Brobston 6-0, 6-1 in a match that was closer than the score indicates. The No. 1 singles match featured two seniors. Renihen will continue to play as an individual.
Frankton took a 2-1 lead as Haylee Niccum and the duo of Launa Hamaker and Sloane Harrison won their matches at No. 3 singles and No. 1 doubles. The two matches were done within 10 minutes of each other and were similar in that each match featured Frankton dominating the second set.
Niccum defeated Lapel sophomore Gracie Frazier 6-4, 6-2. The senior-sophomore combo of Hamaker and Sloane downed Lapel’s senior-junior combo of Gracie Martin and Emma Manning 7-5, 6-1.
Lapel evened the team score at 2-all as senior Gracie Lyons held on to beat Frankton junior Emily Bilyeu 6-1, 7-6 (7-5) at No. 2 singles. That match ended at about the same time that Wenger and Quire dropped their second set to Lapel’s Gwyn Fisher and Kalea Richwine.
“Haylee Niccum getting that first-set victory after getting beat pretty badly both times that shows mental attitude,”coach Hamaker said. “Emily Bilyeu, even though she got beat pretty badly that first set, she fought back the second set. Addison battled and competed, took some games to deuce but just couldn’t pull them out.
“Our doubles play has just continued to improve all season. Launa Hamaker and Sloane Harrison at No. 1 doubles and Chloe Wenger and Campbell Quire at two doubles.”
Wenger and Quire needed a tiebreaker to win the first set 7-6 (7-1). The Bulldog duo took the second set 6-2 to force a third set and determine which team advanced and which team’s season ended.
All eyes were watching the third set.
Quire and Wenger won the first game. But Fisher and Richwine came back to win the next two games and take a 2-1 lead. The Frankton duo won the next game to even the score at 2-all. But the Lapel pair took the fifth game to go up 3-2.
After a brief conference with their coaches at the changeover, Wenger and Quire kicked it up a notch to win the next three games and take a 5-3 lead. The eighth game win by Frankton came after the Eagles were down 15-40.
“We’ve got to win two whether it’s on this changeover right here,” coach Hamaker said of what he told the pair at the changeover. “It starts by us holding our serve and then fighting and getting that next one.
“I felt pretty confident. Chloe doesn’t have a power serve at all but in doubles, it’s just important that you get your first serve in, keeps them guessing. One point at a time, we have to try to get to games, whether it’s this rotation or the next one, we’ve got to try to get two games.”
The Bulldog duo overcame over came a 0-30 deficit to take the ninth game and close the gap to within 5-4. But the 10th game, as well as the set and match, went to the Eagles when Wenger perfectly executed the passing shot to give Frankton a 6-4 third-set victory and a 3-2 team win.
Wenger, a foreign-exchange student from Switzerland, admitted to being nervous in the third set. But she also said they were determined, especially after losing the second set 6-1. Although Wenger may be new to tennis, she is not new to big moments as she was a regional qualifier in girls golf last fall.
“Talk about the most improved player on the team it’s Chloe Wenger,” the Frankton coach said. “She could barely hit a ball the first day of practice. There’s just something about having an older kid – I know she said she may have been nervous – in that position that for some reason gives you a bit of assurance. Really, she’s just a freshman as she had never played before this year.”
ALEXANDRIA SWEEPS EAGLES IN SEMIFINALS Frankton’s return trip for Thursday’s semifinals did not go as well as the Tigers defeated the Eagles 5-0, winning all five matches in straight sets.
At No. 1 doubles, Hamaker and Harrison lost 6-1, 6-2 to Addyson Warren and Lily Harpe. Wenger and Quire were defeated 6-2, 7-6 (7-4) by Alyssa Ryan and Abby Gaines.
In the singles matches, Allie Clark upended Brobston 6-0, 6-1; and Gabby Hosier downed Bilyeu 6-0, 6-1.
The best match of the night was at No. 3 singles where Avery Cuneo needed an hour and half to win the first set over Niccum 7-6 (7-5). The two were the last players off both sets of courts as Cuneo edged Niccum 6-4 in the second set to win the match.