By Josh Brown
TROY — One Tippecanoe doubles teams was already through to next week’s district tournament.
A scrappy Milton-Union doubles team, though, prevented the Red Devils from sending both.
Tippecanoe’s top-seeded Alyssa Stewart and Ladia Coning cruised through the Division II sectional girls tennis tournament Tuesday afternoon at Troy High School, sweeping their way past three matches while only losing a total of two games. The unseeded Bulldog doubles team of Ashley Wombold and Abby Hissong, though, was able to fight off the Devils’ fourth-seeded Sophia McDowell and Jordan Jones in a three-set quarterfinal battle to advance to Saturday’s semis, and to next week’s district tournament.
Stewart and Coning swept Lehman’s Sarah Kramer and A. Briggs 6-0, 6-1 in the opening round, then swept Bellefontaine 6-0, 6-0 and Springfield Shawnee 6-0, 6-1 to advance to the semifinal round.
“Ladia and Alyssa have been playing together all year,” Tippecanoe coach Kaci Matthews said. “They came in the No. 1 seed for a reason. They’ve beaten a lot of very good Greater Western Ohio Conference teams, a lot of good competition, and only lost twice during the regular season. They work very well together.
“Whether it’s communication or the hustle plays, they work hard and work well together. They’re best friends off the court — and it shows on the court.”
Coning and Stewart will play Kenton Ridge’s third-seeded team of M. Wallace and O. Sellars Saturday.
McDowell and Jones, meanwhile, had a preliminary-round bye and routed Brookville 6-1, 6-0 in the first round to reach the quarterfinals, while Milton-Union’s Wombold and Hissong swept Kenton Ridge 6-3, 6-1 in the first round after a bye to set up the head-to-head match with a spot at district on the line.
Wombold and Hissong won the first set easily, 6-3, but McDowell and Jones fought back to win a tough second set 7-5 and force a decisive third one.
With neither team having held serve and the Bulldogs holding a slim 3-2 lead, Wombold battled through a tough service game — one that included nine deuces, with advantages going both ways often — and held to give her team a 4-2 edge in what proved to be the turning point of the match. Wombold and Hissong broke serve again after a series of three deuces to go up 5-2, but even after taking a 40-0 lead in the final game, Tipp’s Jones and McDowell fought hard. They erased three matches points and took an advantage in the first deuce, but Wombold and Hissong fought off that break point and closed out the match in the next deuce.
“It was a good match, just like last year,” Milton-Union coach Diana Finfrock said. Last season, Wombold and Hissong lost the quarterfinal match in three sets to Tipp’s Jones and Victoria Nordquist. “Ashley held serve in that third set, and it broke the match open. It really came down to that game. After that, they started moving their feet and playing like we know they can play.
“I’m extremely proud of those girls. They haven’t played together that much, and they played very well today.”
Wombold and Hissong will face the No. 2 seed, Northwestern’s A. Smith and D. Wilson, in Saturday’s semifinal.
At singles, Tippecanoe senior Kennedy Reeder, the No. 3 seed, defeated Northwestern’s Bethanie Wilson 6-1, 6-0 and Bellefontaine’s Cambryia Elkins 6-4, 6-0 before being upset in the quarterfinal by Nothridge’s Thaomy Tran, 6-3, 6-1. Anna Kueterman defeated Catholic Central’s Skylar Patterson 6-0, 6-0 before falling 6-2, 6-2 to Northwestern’s Dana Coyle. Claire Wint defeated Northridge’s Kindell Massie 6-0, 6-0 in a preliminary match before falling 6-1, 6-0 to Brookville’s Laura Bowen.
For the Bulldogs, the doubles team of Laura Billing and Caitlin Bushelman defeated Northwestern 6-1, 6-4 before falling 6-7 (8), 6-0, 6-1 to Kenton Ridge’s Wallace and Sellars. In singles, Hannah Fugate won a prelim 6-1, 6-0 over Lehman’s Melanie Brunner before falling 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 to Bellefontaine’s Elkins. Rachel Rock lost in the first round, 6-1, 6-0 to Brookville’s Grace Rohrer, and Mercedes Farmer lost a prelim 6-1, 6-1 to Greenville’s Abby Swensen.
The Bulldogs had a strong season, though, finishing as the overall runner-up at last week’s Southwestern Buckeye League Tournament. The second doubles team of Billing and Farmer won an individual championship, Hissong placed second at second singles, Rock placed second at third singles, the first doubles team of Bushelman and Fugate finished third and Wombold finished fifth at first singles.
Lehman’s Sarah Gibson reached the quarterfinals before falling, defeating Springfield Shawnee’s Liz Dunn 1-6, 6-1, 6-2 in a prelim, defeating Catholic Central’s Sydney Tillman 6-0, 6-0 and defeating Northwestern’s Brittanee Massie 6-2, 6-4 before losing in the go-to-district match 6-1, 6-1 to Brookville’s Bowen, the No. 2 seed. And the doubles team of Ann Pennaparra and Angela Brunner lost 6-3, 7-5 to Tippecanoe.
TROY — Troy finished its regular season at 15-5 on Monday, with the Trojans and Miamisburg Vikings both playing their sectional tournament lineups to prepare for Wednesday’s competition in a 4-1 Troy loss.
Emma Kazmaier picked up Troy’s win at second singles, winning 7-6 (3), 6-3.
At first singles, Hannah Essick lost 6-2, 6-0. At third singles, Jackie Fulker lost 6-1, 6-1. At first doubles, Maggie Hennessy and Ashley Bruns lost 6-0, 6-1. At second doubles, Katie Sherrick and Hailey Taylor lost 6-2, 7-5.
The Division I sectional tournament begins at 9 a.m. Wednesday at Troy High School and Troy Community Park.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.