The Journal Gazette
Sunday, May 30, 2021 1:00 am

Girls Tennis semistate

'Bottom points' lift Spartans to crown

VICTORIA JACOBSEN | The Journal Gazette

Homestead tennis coach Michael Hower said that winning at both doubles positions and the No. 3 singles position – as the Spartans did against Northridge at the semistate championship on Saturday – is called “winning the bottom points.”

But in dual matches, those points count just the same as those at No. 1 and 2 singles, and that is why the Spartans won 3-2 to lift the semistate trophy on their home courts.

“That's our specialty, is the depth of this team, and it definitely worked today,” Hower said.

“I think it keeps everybody humble, and I think it's great because in practice we're constantly pushing each other, so that when it's your day to get the point, you'll be ready. It's like a dunk or a layup, they count the same.”

The first match to conclude was at No. 2 doubles, where Homestead's Anna Topmiller and Rhegan Zitlaw beat Northridge's Morgan Mack and Taylin Cress, 6-1, 6-2. 

“I think we played really well, really aggressive. We were definitely hitting our strokes, and we felt really prepared for this match,” said Topmiller. 

Hower said he felt like the Spartans had the advantage at No. 3 singles going into the match, and Ellie Cook delivered, beating Maia Schmucker 6-0, 6-3.

“The wind was definitely a big factor, it was affecting my serve and my groundstroke, so it was a tough match,” Cook said. “It feels really good. It feels great to know that I helped out my team, I did my part, I did everything I could, and I'm excited.”

Soon after Cook wrapped up her match, Homestead's Olivia Creech finished her No. 1 singles match against Northridge's Riley Wheatley, who won 6-4, 6-1. 

With Homestead now leading 2-1, all eyes turned to the No. 1 doubles match. Morgan Render and Madison Zitlaw of Homestead had won a battle against Peyton Kieper and Brynne Gayler to claim their first set 6-4, but won the second 6-2. 

“I would say our net game was very pivotal, hitting at the net was very good just to end the point,” Render said. 

The final match to resolve was at No. 2 singles, where Jenna Lewis of Homestead fell to Lilah Dean of Northridge, 6-4. 6-3. 

Homestead girls tennis had already won 15 semistate titles – tied for second most in the state – but none since 2009. That means that the Homestead girls have qualified for the state finals for the first time since the current Spartans were in elementary school. Homestead will face either Sullivan or Lawrenceburg in the state quarterfinals at Center Grove at noon Friday. 

“It's been a long time, and I think the nervousness came from the pressure of knowing it's been a long time,” Hower said. “For a school of our size, with the resources that we have, we want to be there every year, so it's great to be back.” 

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