- Val T.
Culver Academy sweeps Lady Zs for 4th straight sectional title
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
CULVER — The Culver Academy girls tennis team won their fourth consecutive sectional title with a 5-0 win over Rochester at the Gable Tennis Center Thursday.
Culver Academy won all five matches in straight sets. They have won 18 sectionals in their history, including 15 since 2005.
The only times Culver Academy has not won the sectional since 2005 were 2016 and 2017, when Rochester won back-to-back titles, and 2020, when the tournament was canceled due to the pandemic.
Rochester, who beat Knox 4-1 less than 24 hours earlier in a match moved indoors due to the rain, finished 4-7.
Lady Z singles results included Kylie Houston falling 6-0, 6-0 to Quinn Vasquez at No. 1, Ella McCarter dropping a 6-0, 6-0 decision to Sadie Barrett at No. 2 and Lilith Eaton losing 6-4, 6-2 to Maya Jyothinagaram at No. 3.
Rochester coach Jesse Atkinson had high praise for Vasquez, a Bloomington, Ind., native.
“The last time I’ve seen a girl playing tennis at that level was I want to say was (2016),” Atkinson said. “Plymouth’s number one (in the regional) was cut from the same cloth, just an unbelievable player, just hit the tar out of the ball. Absolutely.”
McCarter, a freshman, lost to Barrett, a junior from South Bend. Barrett relied on a topspin forehand.
“I think Ella in two or three years wins that match,” Atkinson said. “Outside of their number one, we didn’t see a lot of overwhelming power or anything like that.”
In the doubles matches, Anne Curtis and Charlotte LeMieux beat Rily Holloway and Kaedra Shook 6-0, 6-1 at No. 1, and Sze Yin Ngan and Paulina Tavarez beat Makenna Beall and Rylee Clevenger 6-1, 6-3 at No. 2.
Holloway and Shook were playing just their second match together. Senior Emily Hughes, Holloway’s partner throughout the season, missed the sectional with a left foot injury.
“Their opponents were not super overwhelming with power necessarily, but they just did not make a whole lot of mistakes,” Atkinson said.
Beall might have had the top quip of the night. After unforced errors on consecutive points, Beall, an Indiana Wesleyan swimming recruit and former IHSAA state qualifier in the 500 freestyle, said, “I need to get back in the pool.”
Suddenly, Beall and Clevenger came back to win two straight games in the second set to get back within 3-4 before the Culver Academy pair closed the match out.
Atkinson praised the team’s improvement since the LaVille match at the start of the season. But he also said bad weather defined the season.
“It was a very frustrating season,” Atkinson said. “This was probably one of the, if not the, worst spring weather seasons I have had as a girls tennis coach. With that being said, these girls did a great job of really embracing every opportunity that they had to practice and get better, even if that means inside in the gym for the second or third day in a row.
“They took it very seriously. … They want to win. There’s no doubt about that.”
Results: Culver Academy 5, Rochester 0
Quinn Vasquez (CGA) def. Kylie Houston (RHS), 6-0, 6-0
Sadie Barrett (CGA) def. Ella McCarter (RHS), 6-0, 6-0
Maya Jyothinagaram (CGA) def. Lilith Eaton (RHS), 6-4, 6-2
Anne Curtis-Charlotte LeMieux (CGA) def. Rily Holloway-Kaedra Shook (RHS), 6-0, 6-1
Sze Yin Ngan-Paulina Tavarez (CGA) def. Makenna Beall-Rylee Clevenger (RHS), 6-1, 6-3