Plymouth wins 12th straight sectional

BREMEN — Champion-ships never get old, no matter how many you’ve won.
The Lady Pilgrims beat host Bremen in three flights at DeSantis Courts Friday to win the Plymouth girls tennis program a 12th straight sectional title.
Plymouth now advances to play the winner of the Warsaw Sectional at the Culver Girls Academy Regional next Tuesday, while host CGA takes on the Peru Sectional winner in the other semifinal, with the finals slated for Wednesday.
“It’s a good win. Winning sectional doesn’t get old; it’s a great accomplishment each time, and I’m real proud of our girls for stepping up,” said Plymouth head coach Brad Haeck.
“Regardless of the team that we have it’s a challenge every year, especially coming here and playing against Bremen. Glenn’s improved this year, Triton gave us a good run yesterday, especially at the beginning of the sets. We’ve got a target on our backs, but I’m proud of our team for coming through. Record-wise we’ve had kind of a down year from the past few years but this is a great win for our team, and hopefully we can do well at regional next week.”
The team decision echoed an earlier match between the Pilgrims and the Lions April 12, in which Plymouth beat Bremen 4-1.
As in the first meeting, Lady Lions sophomore Morgan Smith earned a win over Kelly Hoeffler at No. 1 singles, but instead of a straight-set victory, Hoeffler extended Smith to three sets this time, battling back from a 5-2 deficit in the second set with five straight games to split sets before falling 6-2, 5-7, 6-2. Smith remains unbeaten on the season and stays alive to play in the individual state tennis tournament next week at CGA.
“With Morgan it’s about confidence,” said Bremen coach Andrew Rohde. “It’s just about her believing in herself, that she can win, because she’s done it all year. And Kelly played a great match, so hat’s off to her. We knew that it was Morgan’s match, and that’s what we wanted her to realize.”
Bremen’s other match point came at 2 doubles, where Haley Moren and Alexa Harshbarger earned a reprisal win over Plymouth’s Emily Blake and Mikayla German in a competitive 7-5, 6-4 contest.
“It could have gone either way. They got us earlier in the year, and we got them today,” said Rohde. “You just have to play out the points. Today was our day. We played the way we wanted to play. We wanted to be aggressive and not just let things come to them and we did that.”
“We won 4-1 the first time, but we know Bremen; they have such a great tradition of tennis here, and their coaches do a great job betting them prepared and playing their best tennis,” Haeck said. “We know they’re going to battle the whole match so regardless of the score and regardless of what we’re playing for we knew we’d be in a dog fight. You can’t look at the matches we won last time and assume that we’re going to win those again. You’ve just got to come out and try to play your best match that day. I give Bremen a lot of credit because they played a great match.”
Marissa German and Andria Shook remained unbeaten in the No. 1 doubles tournament with a 6-0, 6-2 win over Bremen’s Hannah Arch and Jenessa Morris, Allie Berger trumped Chelsea Anglin 6-1, 6-3 at 2 singles, and Ellen Smith earned the Pilgrims’ their decisive third match point, 6-2, 6-4 after falling behind 3-0 in the second set to Kirstyn Buck.
Bremen closes the year with a strong 12-5 record and a Northern State Conference co-championship.
The Lady Lions bid goodbye to a quartet of seniors in Arch and Morris as well as four-year player Anglin and three-year player Buck, who returned this season after sustaining an ACL tear last year.
“All four of those girls, really, they’re the backbone of the team,” said Rohde. “When you’ve got four seniors like that, you really depend on their leadership and willingness to play together and they did a great job of that. I’m really so proud of that, and we’re going to miss them.”
“Thank you to coach (Mark) Wagner for putting up with me and the girls for a few years now, and we’re very grateful that we have him,” he added.
At Bremen Sectional championship
Singles: 1. Morgan Smith (B) beat Kelly Hoeffler 6-2, 5-7, 6-2; 2. Allie Berger (P) beat Chelsea Anglin 6-1, 6-3; 3. Ellen Smith (P) beat Kirstyn Buck 6-2, 6-4.
Doubles: 1. Marissa German-Andria Shook (P) beat Hannah Arch-Jenessa Morris 6-0, 6-2; 2. Haley Moren-Alexa Harshbarger (B) beat Emily Blake-Mikayla German 7-5, 6-4.
Records: Plymouth 10-7, Bremen 12-5 (final)
Individual sectional results
Undefeated 1 Singles: Morgan Smith (Bremen)
Undefeated 1 Doubles: Marissa German-Andria Shook (Plymouth); Hannah Lentz-Bailey Frick (LaVille)