Published on Wednesday, 09 May 2012 10:37
by Ryan Schwab
FORT WAYNE - Trying to describe something that had never been done before may well have been tougher for Carroll Head Tennis Coach Kyle Stoffel than actually accomplishing the feat itself.
Although, Homestead made that pretty tough too.
Stoffel's Girls Tennis team earned their first ever victory over Homestead, 3-2, on Tuesday night at Homestead High School, leaving them as the only unbeaten team in NHC play.
A win over Columbia City on Thursday and the Lady Chargers will be the first team other than Homestead to win an NHC Championship in the 23 years of NHC girl’s competition. It would also mark the first time that Carroll has won the NHC in both Boys and Girls Tennis in the same school year.
"The best way to describe it would be indescribable, really," Stoffel said moments after an emotional back-and-forth win. "It's hard to put into words. I've coached a long time. We only had two girls back from last year's team and to do it with these hard working girls is really hard to describe."
Two matches went three sets, including an epic encounter at one singles that needed a third-set tiebreaker to decide. A tiebreaker was also needed in the second set at two singles, a match that provided Carroll the winning point.
By night's end, the Lady Chargers (14-2, 6-0 NHC) secured wins on all three singles courts.
"This is unbelievable. I am so happy right now. It is incredible," said sophomore one singles player Rachel Sutton. "It's a big moment for us, and the program, and for Coach Stoffel. I am so proud to be a part of this team."
Sutton outlasted Homestead junior Hanita Epstein in three sets, needing to win the last two sets after dropping the first. Epstein broke Sutton's first serve of the match and won the first set 6-3.
After a brief talk with Coach Stoffel, Sutton rebounded and won the second set 6-0 and was serving for the match up 5-4 in the third set. Epstein broke Sutton's serve, then held her own to take a 6-5 lead, forcing Sutton to win the next game, on her serve, and force a tiebreaker.
Epstein took a 2-0 lead to start the tiebreaker, held a 3-2 advantage at the changeover, but Sutton scored the final five points to win the tiebreaker 7-3.
"I was definitely nervous. I wanted to come out swinging and play the way I play. It didn't really work out, so I got frustrated. I just had to calm down, let the nerves subside, and play the way I play," Sutton said of her first set struggles. "My serve is definitely my weapon and it's hard (emotionally) when it gets broken. I just had to focus in on playing Tennis, not let that bother me, not let the crowd bother me, just focus."
"(Falling behind in the tiebreaker) was definitely difficult. You just have to tell yourself you got it and fight back no matter what the deficit is."
"Once (Sutton) settled down, away we went," remarked Coach Stoffel. "She stayed pretty calm (in the third set) which is to her credit. She dialed in her serve better, because she had some double faults, and that made the difference."
Junior Ashley Hoagland appeared in cruise control in her two singles match with Lady Spartan junior Mary Rajchel, winning the first set 6-2 and leading the second set 5-0. Rajchel, however, won six straight games to take a 6-5 lead. Hoagland was able to force a tiebreaker and scored the first four points on her way to a 7-2 win.
"When I got up 5-0, I knew I had it," Hoagland said. "(Rajchel) got the next game and just kept going and going and it made me really nervous. I just hung in there and ended up winning."
"Getting the first point in (the tiebreaker) got my self-esteem up and got me going. I just wanted to be consistent. Just get it to her and hope she misses it. It's exciting. We have never beaten (Homestead) before."
Homestead (7-4) took a 1-0 lead with a straight sets win, 6-2, 6-3, from Kelsey Vessels and Allison Overlander at one doubles.
Carroll tied the match with a straight sets win, 6-3, 6-2, from junior Catherine Curtis at three singles. Sutton and Hoagland followed with their wins to secure the victory for Carroll.
"Curtis really played well, which was nice," said Coach Stoffel. "She had been riding a roller coaster these last few matches. She knew that coming out and starting a match has been an issue recently and she came out from the start today, played strong all the way through. Coach (Dale) Warner had a great game plan for her and once she got going, it worked out well."
Jenay Andrews and Andrea Stephens won in three sets, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 at two doubles for Homestead.
The match saw Carroll drop the first point on all five courts and they dropped the first set on three of five courts.
"Two three setters, down five six in the third set at one singles, down 5-6 in the second set at two singles, and more; yes, (beating Homestead) was everything I thought it would be," added Stoffel. "It shouldn't be easy. It was fun, sort of."
Carroll junior Catherine Curtis puts away a shot at the net during Tuesday's Girls Tennis match at Homestead. Carroll defeated Homestead 3-2 marking the first time in school history that Carroll has defeated Homestead in Girls Tennis.