Holder scores clinching point at No. 3 singles, leads Valley girls tennis past Rochester
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
AKRON — The Tippecanoe Valley girls tennis team swept all three singles matches and also won at No. 1 doubles to earn a 4-1 win over visiting Rochester on May 9.
With Valley leading 2-1, Talia Holder scored the clinching point with a 6-0, 6-4 win at No. 3 singles over Rylee Clevenger.
Lydia Miller beat Rily Holloway 6-2, 6-7 (4), 6-2 at No. 2 singles to end the night in the only match that went three sets.
The other Valley points came from Karegan Callahan, who won 6-3, 6-0 at No. 1 singles over Ella McCarter; and Lily Ault and Ella Sandbakken, who were first off the court after a 6-1, 6-1 win over Olivia Bailey and Audrey Bolinger at No. 1 doubles.
“They’re very easy to coach,” Valley co-coach Hunter Ackerman said of Ault and Sandbakken. “They’re very consistent, I think. … They just came off a pretty bad loss against Manchester. Tonight they played phenomenal. We put in some extra work before this match to try to get them where they need to go. They’re always willing to work. And they’re very stoic. They don’t get very high. They don’t stay very low. They’re mind is very strong, and they’re very solid in that way.”
Rochester’s only point came at No. 2 doubles, where Taylor Howard and Elizabeth Weaver pulled away in the second set to beat Sarah Finney and Madelyn Weaver 7-5, 6-1.
“I felt like they communicated well tonight,” Rochester coach Adrian Paulik said. “They were able to pick out their opponents’ weaknesses and play with them to their advantage. Their serves were on point, and they were able to attack the net too.”
Holloway spent her first two years at Tippecanoe Valley but never played competitive tennis until the spring of 2022 when she was a junior at Rochester. She and Miller are friends and exchanged a hug after the match.
“I’m very proud of her for doing that,” Paulik said of Holloway winning the second set. “I think even in the third set, she just played very well, but more or less, she got tired as well. The other girl just overplayed her until the very end.”
Callahan is a sophomore who has gone from JV as a freshman to No. 2 singles at the start of her sophomore year to No. 1 singles now. She relied on retrieving balls and forcing McCarter to hit extra shots and a serve down the T from both the deuce and ad courts that she said makes it a harder angle for her opponents to read.
She does not play a fall or winter sport, and she said she spent that time at the Warsaw Racquet Club and the Wabash YMCA preparing for the spring.
Miller and Callahan flip-flopped spots in the lineup in the middle of the season. Callahan said she did not win a challenge match in practice against Miller. She said she was simply told that she was No. 1. She said it gave her confidence.
“They mean so much to me,” Callahan said of Ackerman and his wife and co-head coach Emily, who also coaches at Grace College. “I love them as coaches. They’re such nice people, and they really helped me a lot. … They’re both very encouraging and very nice.”
Ackerman said he tells Callahan to rally and “be a wall” and make her opponents make a mistake.
“Karegan has been playing very well, and she’s beaten very good opponents this year against very competitive schools. From the get-go, it was rather close challenge matches at the beginning of the year. And then it was pretty obvious the first couple matches that we needed to switch her because she was playing very, very well. … Once we made the move with her against Whitko – that was her first number one singles match – she played very well. She lost in three sets to a very good opponent, but since then, she’s been leaps and bounds. She’s gotten better every single match.”
Holder also excels at avoiding errors, according to Ackerman.
“When she’s consistent, that’s definitely her game for sure,” Ackerman said. “She’s not an offensive player by any stretch of the imagination, but she plays consistent. When she’s consistently hitting her first serve in and she’s consistently keeping her opponent moving and keeping shots deeper, she’s a good player. She’s very solid for us.”
RESULTS: VALLEY 4, ROCHESTER 1
Karegan Callahan (TV) def. Ella McCarter (RHS), 6-3, 6-0
Lydia Miller (TV) def. Rily Holloway (RHS), 6-2, 6-7 (4), 6-2
Talia Holder (TV) def. Rylee Clevenger (RHS), 6-0, 6-4
Lily Ault-Ella Sandbakken (TV) def. Olivia Bailey-Audrey Bolinger (RHS), 6-1, 6-1
Taylor Howard-Elizabeth Weaver (RHS) def. Sarah Finney-Madelyn Weaver (TV), 7-5, 6-1
JV RESULTS: VALLEY 4, ROCHESTER 0
Kylee Trepanier (TV) def. Lola Brady (RHS), 8-1
Sarah Gross (TV) def. Kaedra Shook (RHS), 8-4
Maci Parker (TV) def. Danielle Borg (RHS) , 8-1
Karley Hallstrom (TV) def. Sophie McCall (RHS) , 8-1