By Josh Brown
WEST MILTON — Plenty of good-natured verbal barbs flew both directions Monday.
In the end, though, both opposing coaches still shared a hug.
After all, it was a family get-together for Tippecanoe tennis coach Kaci Finfrock and Milton-Union coach Diana Brumbaugh as Finfrock — also a Milton-Union graduate herself — and her Red Devils swept her mother’s young Bulldogs 5-0 Monday at Milton-Union High School.
“My mom is definitely a competitor,” Finfrock said. “It’s something I learned from her. But she taught me a lot of other things about life, too, not just sports, and that’s what she’s bringing to Milton-Union — life lessons, not just coaching.
“She’s a great woman, and I love her. It may not have seemed like it during the match sometimes, but it’s a fact,” she added with a laugh.
“It’s just fun to watch her. She’s has a lot of my husband in her,” Brumbaugh said. “I’m still learning the ropes coaching, this being my first year, but this is her third now. It’s fun to see her out there with her girls.”
And while the Devils were young players when Finfrock took over, they showed how much they’ve matured in the past year.
At first singles, Kennedy Reeder defeated Ashley Wombold 6-0, 6-0. At second singles, Ladia Coning won the longest match of the day as she and Milton-Union’s Abby Hissong rallied back and forth, closing out a 6-3, 6-2 win.
And at third singles, Milton-Union’s Rachel Rock looked poised to push Jordan Jones to three sets, holding a 5-2 lead in the second. But Jones fought back and finished strong in a 6-2, 7-5 victory.
“That’s definitely where the experience part comes in,” Finfrock said. “Milton-Union graduated some great players last year, and this is kind of a rebuilding year for them. But hats off to my girls for playing like the experienced team, the veteran team. I was very proud of them.”
At first doubles, Ali Merrick and Sophia McDowell defeated Anna Brown and Caitlin Bushelman 6-0, 6-0. At second doubles, Victoria Nordquist and Sydney Laymon defeated Lauren Claggett and Mercedes Farmer 6-0, 6-0.
“Most of our girls were JV last year, their first time picking up a racket. So they’re about a year and a half in,” Brumbaugh said. “But they’ve come a long way in that time. It’s amazing how far they’ve come. I’m not disappointed in them at all. I was proud of them today. They’ve gotten better in every match.
“It’s fun to see their intensity. They truly enjoy the game, and they gave it their all today. They did well.”
Over the weekend, the two teams got a preview of Monday’s matchup at Saturday’s Schroeder Invitational, though they didn’t have many head-to-head matches. Tippecanoe finished tied with Troy for second at the tournament, while the Bulldogs finished seventh.
Both teams are back in action Tuesday, with Tippecanoe returning home to host Central Buckeye Conference foe Bellefontaine and Milton-Union traveling to Carlisle for a Southwestern Buckeye League matchup.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.