Plymouth downs Falcons in opener

WALKERTON — There were some rough spots for both teams, but there were also positives for both Plymouth and John Glenn to take away from their girls tennis opener Thursday.
A mostly young Plymouth squad won in convincing fashion on four courts, while Glenn scored its first match point against Plymouth in a long time at No. 3 singles as the Lady Pilgrims started out the season with a 4-1 team win in a blustery girls tennis opener on the road.
Of last year’s varsity lineup, only No. 1 singles player Kelly Hoeffler and No. 1 doubles player Marissa German are back with Plymouth this season, but Plymouth’s young players made solid varsity debuts with straight set victories on all but the 3 singles court.
“We lost five great seniors from last year. We’ve got two returning from our top seven, but we’ve got a strong JV returning from last year and we’ve got a lot of girls that put a lot of time in since last year,” said Plymouth head coach Brad Haeck. “It’s just kind of new people stepping up in places and positions and kind of hopefully reload instead of rebuild.”
Plymouth’s doubles tandems were dominant as German and Andria Shook beat Glenn’s 1 doubles team of Kaysi O’Brien and Sara Wolf in two 6-2 sets, while in the 2 doubles flight Victoria Dewar and Mikayla German shut out Glenn’s Victoria Clark and Emily Vandervelden 6-0, 6-0.
On the singles courts, meanwhile, Hoeffler and varsity newcomer Allie Berger jumped out to quick wins in their first sets at No. 1 and 2 singles, respectively, before their Falcons counterparts battled back.
Anna Schmalzried took four games from Hoeffler in the second set but ultimately succumbed 6-1, 6-4, while freshman Kyler Columbia dropped her first set 6-0 before battling back with three wins in the second set to lose 6-0, 6-3.
“Kelly and Allie started out really well in their matches,” said Haeck. “It’s something where every match we’ve got to be ready to go and we’ve got to try to play our best match every match, and hopefully we’re ready to play right from the start.”
“It was the first varsity match ever for Kyler. She’s a freshman and she’s going to be great. She had a lot of nerves,” said Glenn coach Tammy Pudlo. “Anna came back strong; I was really proud of her, she’s worked hard in the past couple years. I was really proud of everybody’s effort today. We don’t have that big of a squad this year so that’s kind of a bummer, but the girls are really trying hard.”
But Glenn’s brightest spot of the evening came at the 3 singles court where Ally Pudlo made her first singles appearance.
Pudlo jumped out to a 3-0 lead against Pilgrims sophomore Ellen Smith and held her off for a 7-5 first set victory. Smith rebounded with a 6-2 second set win, but the scrappy Pudlo used a defensive style to outlast Smith in the windy conditions in the third set, putting her away 6-2 to prevent the team whitewashing.
“She decided she wanted to play singles this year, and I wasn’t sure how that would work,” said Tammy Pudlo. “But we played this winter in a league up at the South Bend Racket Club, and we played all summer and she wanted to try it so I said ‘OK.’ She’s a counter puncher. I think it’s one of our first wins over Plymouth in a varsity math, so we’ll take it.”
Glenn opens at 0-1 on the season, while Plymouth is off to a 1-0 start. The Pilgrims face a tough schedule next week as they host Valparaiso Monday, Merrillville on Tuesday and Bremen on Thursday before their home tournament Saturday.
“We’re going to do the best we can in practice and work hard and improve every day and hopefully put seven people on the court every day that are going to play up to their potential and do the best they can,” said Haeck.
“We’ve been shuffling people in the lineup around in challenge matches and trying to figure out where to play people. We may try some different things. We’ll see what happens. We’ve got two tough matches next week, and we’ll see where we get.”
At Walkerton
SINGLES: 1. Kelly Hoeffler (P) beat Anna Schmalzried 6-1, 6-4; 2. Allie Berger (P) beat Kyler Columbia 6-0, 6-3; 3. Ally Pudlo (G) beat Ellen Smith 7-5, 2-6, 6-2.
DOUBLES: 1. Marissa German-Andria Shook (P) beat Kaysi O’Brien-Sara Wolf 6-2, 6-2; 2. Victoria Dewar-Mikayla German (P) beat Victoria Clark-Emily Vandervelden 6-0, 6-0.
Records: Plymouth 1-0, John Glenn 0-1
JV score: Plymouth 6, Glenn 0.