BY GREG FLINT
VEEDERSBURG, Ind. —
In order to reach the finals of the Wabash River Conference singles tournament, Miranda Synesael of Seeger had to play one of her best friends in Mackensey Sorrell of Covington.
The two had faced each other as far back as when Sorrell was in seventh grade and Synesael was in eighth. They had played doubles together as recently as this past summer.
“It was hard to play her. I had to put our friendship aside when I went out there,” said Synesael of the match. “I wanted to win, but it’s hard to play a friend.”
Sorrell agreed and said it was different having to play her, as the two never faced each other in the regular season because Synesael played one-singles for the Patriots while Sorrell played two-singles.
“I just went out and tried to play the way I always play,” said Sorrell. “I knew I had to be as aggressive as possible.”
Synesael, the number one seed in the tournament, defeated Sorrell and then had to go on to face Hannah Smith of Turkey Run, a player who had pushed her to three sets in the regular season.
“I try to get off to a fast start,” said Synesael. “I try hard to win the first three games and then just play my usual tennis.”
It worked as the Patriot junior won 6-1, 6-0 to take the title, but that is only a start if she has her wish.
“We want to win the sectional and get to play in the regional,” she said. “We’ve faced all these [sectional] teams and won, but you can’t let down. You have to play the best you can, because it’s hard to come back if you have a slow start.”
On the doubles side, her teammates Bridget McGowen and Emmie Stevens teamed up to defeat Abby Moore and Clare McGrady of Fountain Central 6-2, 7-6 (2).
The Patriot duo is a solid doubles team that is at their best when Stevens is at the net and McGowen roams the baseline.
Both players say they like to play position, rather than power tennis, although each showed power at times.
“If you only use power, they can sometimes hit it back,” said Stevens. “But if you put the ball in the right place, it’s hard for them to return it.”
The twosome was the number one seed in the tournament and lived up to that billing. Asked if being ranked number one was a blessing or a curse, McGowen said it was to their advantage.
“It gives you confidence when you go out, knowing you supposed to win,” she explained, “but if we struggle, we talk to each other and pick each other up.”
They had to do that in the second set. Up a set, 5-4 in the second and 40-0 in game ten, the opposing team of Moore and McGrady suddenly caught fire.
The Mustang pair fought off five match points and won two straight games. McGowen and Synesael won the next to send the set into a tiebreaker that the Patriots won 7-2.
“We didn’t want to go three sets,” said Stevens about turning things around in the tiebreaker. “We didn’t change anything except that we kept telling each other that we were seniors and we intended to win.”
Fountain Central coach David Kight spoke about his doubles team of Moore and McGrady, saying he was really proud of their effort, especially late in that second set.
“Think about it, they’re only freshmen,” he said. “They’ve got some things to learn and work on, but I couldn’t ask for more than what they did at the end of the match.”
Greg Flint is a freelance writer/photographer for the Commercial-News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org