Plymouth nips NorthWood, 3-2

PLYMOUTH — With so much on the line, it was an emotional win, and one the Lady Pilgrims needed badly.
As Plymouth and NorthWood players surrounded the No. 1 singles court, Kelly Hoeffler clinched her third set over Kennedy Walter, and with it the Pilgrims claimed a narrow 3-2 win over visiting Northern Lakes Conference foe NorthWood at Centennial Park Thursday.
“That’s a pressure situation, that’s a tough situation, but that’s just a stepping up for her team at 1 singles and getting it done,” said Plymouth head tennis coach Brad Haeck. “We talk about playing to win when you’re in that situation. Sometimes you get tight and you get nervous, and really for the most part she did a good job of keeping her feet moving and through the ball and playing to win.”
Hoeffler’s match took nearly three hours to complete, and the Plymouth No. 1
took several moments to collect herself before the match point.
After falling behind a set with a 6-4 loss in the opener, Hoeffler was able to jump out to a 4-1 lead in the second set, putting away the scrappy Walter 6-3 to set up the tiebreaker. Hoeffler broke Walter’s serve twice early to jump out to another big lead, this time 4-0, before the NorthWood sophomore battled back with wins in three of the next four games. But misserves and unforced errors finally caught up with Walter, and Hoeffler finished her off 45-30 to clinch the game and the match 6-3.
“I was just thinking ‘You’ve got to have more endurance,” said Hoeffler of her tiebreaking third set. “’This is where all the running comes into play. You’ve got to stay stronger, get to more balls than her, keep them in play, make less mistakes and you’ll win.’
“Kennedy is really good. I played her last year. She’s definitely really a hard player, and it’s just really a big boost of confidence that I know I can beat someone as good as her.”
Plymouth’s other wins of the night came at 2 singles, where Allie Berger beat Emily Hoffman 6-2, 6-3, and at 1 doubles, where Marissa German and Andria Shook earned the Pilgrims their first win of the night with a 6-0, 6-1 victory over NorthWood’s Sarah Wysong and Tori Schwartz.
“We worked on a few things in practice yesterday, and I think 1 doubles looked really good. They were really aggressive, they were cutting balls off at the net, and they were doing what we want them to do,” said Haeck.
“Allie’s a good player. She’s going to have to be consistent, and she’s going to have to beat some really good players this year in conference to give us a good chance to win some of the matches. She’s typically very steady. She got a little worked up and a little frustrated at the beginning of her match, but she kind of settled in there and she was fine.”
NorthWood scored wins at 3 singles and 2 doubles, meanwhile, as the Panthers tandem of Kayla Bear and Brooklyn Moore beat Emily Blake and Mikayla German 6-1, 6-2, and Trista Grove handed Ellen Smith a 7-5, 6-2 loss to even the match at 2-2.
Thursday’s was the first NLC win of the season for Plymouth after the Lady Pilgrims fell on the wrong side of another 3-2 decision on the road at Warsaw Tuesday.
“There are no gimmies in our conference, so we’ve got to be ready to play every match,” said Haeck. “We lost a tough one at Warsaw and we came back and had another tough one here, and we get to pull this one out. We’ve just got to take it day by day, and it’s going to be a battle, every match we play in the conference this year.”
It was NorthWood’s second 3-2 conference loss and third so far this season, meanwhile.
“I felt like our girls played really well at all the courts,” said Panthers head coach Tif Schwartz. “Everyone was pretty close other than 1 doubles. I was very excited to see where we were. I thought we all played really strong and played really well. It was good to have a couple wins. At 3 singles, I know it was her first time to win in the conference so that was a big win for her. And Emily played really well at 2. It’s just a really tight match, and unfortunately we’ve had a few of these 2-3 losses. We’re going to continue to get better. I’m seeing good things each match, and hopefully one of these times we’ll get a 3-2 win instead of a 2-3 loss.”
Plymouth improves to 3-2 overall on the season with a 1-1 record in NLC play, while the Panthers fall to a tough 0-5 start and 0-3 in the competitive Northern Lake league.
“We’ll see them again. We get to play them in the conference tournament. It’ll be exciting,” said Schwartz. “I think things could turn around. We could play a little better, and, you know what, they might too. It’ll be fun to see what happens.
We’re right there. I think that they’re playing tough, it’s just a matter of we get one more court, and we get that win. I think we’re moving in the right direction, but it’s just taking a little time here.”
At Plymouth
Singles: 1. Kelly Hoeffler (P) beat Kennedy Walter 4-6, 6-3, 6-3; 2. Allie Berger (P) beat Emily Hoffman 6-2, 6-3; 3. Trista Grove (N) beat Ellen Smith 7-5, 6-2.
Doubles: 1. Marissa German-Andria Shook (P) beat Sarah Wysong-Tori Schwartz 6-0, 6-1; 2. Kayla Bear-Brooklyn Moore (N) beat Emily Blake-Mikayla German 6-1, 6-2.
Records: Plymouth 3-2 (1-1 NLC), Northwood 0-5 (0-3 NLC)
JV score: Plymouth 11, Northwood 1