La PORTE — Being the three-time defending sectional champs with only one loss this season, a target was on the collective backs of La Porte’s girls tennis team.
The Slicers shrugged off the pressure and pulled away in the first sets of three of the five positions after Michigan City was competitive early in Thursday’s sectional final.
But the Wolves (6-10) didn’t fully have an answer for La Porte, which won in straight sets at every spot to capture its fourth consecutive title. The Slicers beat their county rival 5-0 at the LeRoy Courts in Kesling Park on a windy day.
City coach Rudy Kohn credited the Slicers, but at the same time, took nothing away from his squad.
“We ran into a really good La Porte team,” Kohn said. “Sometimes that’s just what happens. Our girls played really well tonight.
“It was a case where La Porte was just a better team this year. A lot of times adrenaline and emotion can take you so far in a match. In the end, the better team normally wins. Hats off to them.”
“We were all kind of nervous today, but we took that pressure and we didn’t really let it affect us,” La Porte’s Rachel Kaminski said. “And we just played our game. We just came out confident.”
Roughly 25 minutes into the contest, three of the five positions were tight – No. 1 singles, No. 2 singles, and No. 2 doubles. The Slicers (18-1) started to take control, though. And they earned quick victories at No. 3 singles and No. 1 doubles.
“These are always hard, these are never easy,” Slicers’ coach Don Varda said. “They’re a lot of work and a lot of dedication that the public really never sees. It’s what happens when the public isn’t watching. But this is fantastic.”
To begin the match, the Slicers’ Allison Varda cruised 6-1, 6-1 at No. 3 singles over Aika Patejdl. Varda broke serve to win the first game, and jumped ahead 4-1 in the opening set en route to the victory.
At No. 1 doubles, Kaminski and Jory Bales lost just one game, downing Sara Poulin and Madison Laux 6-1, 6-0.
“It’s really special,” Bales said of winning another sectional. “It’s Rachel and I’s second in a row. It’s really big. Last year, no one expected us to win. This year, everyone was scared to draw us and play us.”
La Porte sealed the match after Alaina Majors beat Sydney Kohn 6-4, 6-0 at No. 1 singles.
Sydney Kohn was solid early, leading 3-2 in the first set. From there, Majors seized control, going ahead 5-4 in the first before capturing it after breaking serve. She then rolled in the second set.
At No. 2 doubles, Madeline Fleshman and Madeleine Nunn topped Hannah Debald and Brianne Norman 6-4, 6-3. Nunn turned her ankle in the sixth game of the first set, but recovered admirably to lead the La duo to the win.
Tally Wolf closed the contest by topping Evangelea Dabagia 6-4, 6-2 at No. 2 singles. Dabagia was ahead 3-2 in the opening set, but couldn’t sustain it. Wolf claimed the next two games to take a 4-3 cushion in the first and never trailed again.
Coach Kohn said the No. 1 doubles spot shined for his team.
“Looking at the score, it was 6-1, 6-0, but our No. 1 doubles team played really well tonight,” he said. “Our No. 2 doubles team also played well. It’s hard to single any of them out.
"Sydney (Kohn) for the first probably half to two-thirds of the first set, she was playing really good tennis, and I thought it might be a good night for her. But they all played well.”
City loses three seniors to graduation, Kohn, Debald and Laux.
“It’s hard to say goodbye to all of them,” the coach said.
Sydney Kohn finishes her prep career with a sparkling 64-18 record.
“She’s had a great career,” said her coach and father. “She’s won 64 matches for us. She’s won a lot of big matches against a lot of good players. It’s hard for me to think about it ending, to be honest. But she’s ready for college and she’s ready for the next step in her life.”
La Porte will face South Bend St. Joseph in a La Porte Regional semifinal on Tuesday. The Indians beat South Bend Washington 5-0 in a sectional final Thursday.