By Josh Brown
TROY — When Troy tennis coach Mark Goldner found out one of his second doubles players would not be available for Tuesday’s matchup against fellow division leader Tippecanoe, a lot of scenarios went through his head.
After all, the Red Devils had played the Trojans tough at the Schroeder Invitational earlier this season, and one match at any position could swing the final result one way or the other.
In the end, though, Goldner did as the Trojans have all season and relied on his three seniors — and they all came through.
Hannah Essick, Maggie Hennessy and Ashley Bruns swept the singles spots to seal the team victory early in a match between two of the three teams that were undefeated in Greater Western Ohio Conference America North Division play going into the day. Emma Kazmaier and last-minute replacement Mckenzie Nosker swept their way to a second doubles win, as well, and Katie Sherrick and Hailey Taylor won a third-set supertiebreaker to seal a 5-0 Troy victory over visiting Tippecanoe Tuesday.
“When I got a call this morning from Jackie (Fulker) saying that she couldn’t play, a lot of things kept running through my mind.,” Goldner said. “Those three seniors — Hannah, Maggie and Ashley, they’ve been through it. They’ve earned it in the GWOC. If it backfires, then it’s on me, but I decided today to let them prove it — and they did.”
It was a scary position for Troy (13-2, 8-0 GWOC American North), the two-time defending division champion, facing off against the North’s newest addition in Tippecanoe (13-4, 8-1 GWOC American North) — particularly given the results from the Schroeder earlier this season. Essick had lost to Tippecanoe’s Kennedy Reeder there, and the first doubles team had pulled off a 9-8 win over Ladia Coning and Alyssa Stewart. With the change at second doubles thrown into the mix, anything could have happened going in.
The Trojans, however, left no doubts.
At first singles, Essick got a measure of payback over Reeder, winning 6-0 in the first set then battling through the heat to hold on for a 6-4 win in the second set.
Despite proclaiming to Essick that she was “low-key dying” due to the heat at one point in her second set, Hennessy also claimed a straight-sets win at second singles, defeating Sophia McDowell 6-2, 6-0.
And at third singles, Bruns was the first match done on the day, defeating Jordan Jones 6-1, 6-0.
“With Hannah, sometimes a loss to someone kind of wakes you up,” Goldner said. “She’d lost to (Reeder) at the Schroeder. She was upset at the time, but I told her she’d get a second chance. And she played well today. We were counting on all three of them to come through at singles, and they did.”
At second doubles, Kazmaier and Nosker put away Claire Wint and Anna Kueterman with a 6-1, 6-2 win. And at first doubles, Sherrick and Taylor had another to-the-wire battle with Coning and Stewart, battling back after losing the first set to win 2-6, 6-3, 1-0 (11-9) — but Coning and Stewart didn’t give up, either, falling behind 9-2 in the supertiebreaker but coming back to tie the score at 9-9 before finally falling.
“We knew first doubles would be the kind of match it was, we knew it’d be close,” Goldner said. “At second, with Mckenzie stepping in, I didn’t know how she’d react. I just told her about three simple things, didn’t want to make it complicated for her. She executed all that and really did a nice job — and Emma’s been there, and she was kind of the rock today at second doubles. That was a super win.”
“We wanted to come out and play better against Troy today,” Tippecanoe coach Kaci Matthews said. “I don’t think we showed our true colors today — but Troy does that to teams because they’re so good. Give credit to Troy and coach Goldner, they played well. Troy definitely came out and beat us solidly today.”
Both teams have non-league games before returning to division play Thursday — with a big showdown looming for Troy on Monday.
Tippecanoe hosts Carroll on Wednesday and then takes on Butler — which was left the only team still unbeaten in American North play other than Troy — on Thursday. The Trojans, meanwhile, travel to Fairmont Wednesday and Piqua Thursday before hosting Butler on Monday for Senior Night.
“It’s in our hands, and that’s the way you want it,” Goldner said.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.