PREP GIRLS TENNIS: NorthWood goes back-to-back with sectional title at home

May 17—NAPPANEE — For the second time in as many years, NorthWood has won a girls tennis sectional at home.

With clear and sunny skies overhead, the Panthers absorbed the heat and dealt it back on the court with a powerful ending to wrap up the title.

"Once court two doubles came off, then I thought 'okay, that has to put pressure on one doubles immediately,'" NorthWood head coach Tif Schwartz said on her mindset after Fairfield won their second point, knotting the game at two with one doubles the last court undecided. "It was who was going to outlast each other for the most part and I felt like both teams did very well at holding their own."

The matchup, between NorthWood's Emery Porter and Kaydence Dumka and Fairfield's Amanda McGuire and Elyse Schwartz, brought all the spectators' eyes to the exciting finish. The Panthers held a 1-0 set lead with a 4-3 advantage in the second set.

Up 5-3, Fairfield hung tight to make it 5-4 as both teams switched sides. Several times did both partners face a deuce after long volleys between both the front and back court players. After the switch, Porter and Dumka closed it out quickly, winning the set 6-4 and keeping the sectional title in Nappanee.

"I saw that 2-dubs was down and I did realize we would have to win," Dumka said as Porter admitted to not knowing the crucial point was up to them, instead focusing on closing out the win.

It was NorthWood's second match en route to the title. The Panthers had beaten Bethany Christian 5-0 the day prior. Fairfield knocked out Goshen (5-0) and Bremen (3-2) before Friday's loss.

"We went in knowing it was going to be a 3-2 match one way or another for either school and it kind of played out the way we thought," first-year Fairfield head coach Brodie Garber said afterwards.

NorthWood beat Fairfield nearly a month ago by the same score and with wins at No. 2 singles, No. 3 singles and No. 1 doubles. The Panthers replicated those wins at all three positions Friday afternoon.

"We see them right after spring break so that's a totally different team from what we saw," Tif Schwartz said. "I felt like every court picked up their intensity a little more and the doubles was a little more aggressive on both courts [today]."

The evening started with Fairfield's Addie Mast making quick work in No. 1 singles, winning 6-1, 6-0. Going undefeated in the sectional, she'll return next week for the individual tournament after falling in the individual regional championship last year.

"Addie's Addie," Garber said. "She's just a workhorse. Her competitiveness, her drive, her desire to win every single point, no matter what the score is she's continuingly fighting for the point."

With Mast's point, Fairfield was up 1-0 after the Falcons took leads on three of the five courts at the beginning of each positions first set.

NorthWood fired back with a 6-0, 6-0 win at No. 2 doubles from Tatum Evers and with Gabriela Poblador winning at No. 3 singles 6-1, 6-1, the Panthers had a 2-1 lead.

Coming in, the chances that either doubles team would be the deciding factor in the title race were high. In the regular season matchup, the No. 1 doubles point went to NorthWood by a score of 6-4, 6-1. No. 2 doubles had went Fairfield's way with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 win.

This time, Fairfield No. 2 doubles squad of Eva Herbert and Lacy Stoltzfus kept the match at two sets, winning 6-4, 6-1. NorthWood picked up the exciting win in No. 1 doubles afterwards, thwarting the Falcons attempts at the title.

It was NorthWood's seventh sectional title and second in-a-row.

"We have a good conference to prepare us for this and I feel like we're coming off of some good matches over the last week so I just felt like both teams had elevated themselves," Tif Schwartz said before going into her doubles teams which have been a large success this season.

"I feel like it brings a lot of confidence to our team because they feel like we can compete on all the courts and that's just a huge asset to everybody," the head coach said. "I don't think we ever felt like we were down so that I think plays to benefit ourselves."

NorthWood's present for winning the title, a date with fellow conference foe Northridge, which won the Concord Sectional Thursday night. The Raiders won in Middlebury during the regular season matchup with a sweep of the singles competition, winning 3-2. The two schools ended up tied for the regular season at 6-1 and then finished knotted at second in the NLC Championship in Mishawaka.

A chance to create some separation for either school will be up for grabs Tuesday when NorthWood hosts the regional round, looking to win its third regional title after winning its second last season. The winner will get either Warsaw or Penn.

"Monday we have some preparation to do and we just go into it knowing it's going to be a good match and a battle on every court," Tif Schwartz said. "I don't think there is one court really where you can say it will predominately be one way or another."

"I think we're pretty confident with what we do and making sure that we're focusing on what we're doing and not what everyone else is doing," Porter said.

Mast will also return, looking to continue her individual season.

"She's just primed and ready for this," Garber said. "I can't put the number of hours that she's put in, not just this season alone. She's up to this, she's ready and driven and I look forward to her having a long road into this postseason."


NORTHWOOD SECTIONAL 63 — Championship match

NorthWood def. Fairfield 3-2

NorthWood advances to play Northridge Tuesday at NorthWood High School in Regional 16

No. 1 singles: Addie Mast (FF) def. Britton Jesse (NW) 6-1, 6-0

No. 2 singles: Tatum Evers (NW) def. Taylor Schreck (FF) 6-0, 6-0

No. 3 singles: Gabriela Poblador (NW) def. Allie Stahly (FF) 6-1, 6-1

No. 1 doubles: Emery Porter-Kaydence Dumka (NW) def. Elise Schwartz-Amanda McGuire (FF) 6-4, 6-4

No. 2 doubles: Eva Herbert-Lacy Stoltzfus (FF) def. Maddy Birk-Maggie Steiner (NW) 6-4, 6-1

Order of finish: 1S, 2S, 3S, 2D, 1D

Reach Matt Lucas at 574-533-2151, ext. 240325, or at