By Josh Brown
TIPP CITY — Coming off of a loss to one of the best teams in the Dayton area, Tippecanoe was looking to regain its edge against visiting Lehman.
The Cavaliers, meanwhile, have faced a steady stream of tough teams to start the season.
And while Lehman will use its third straight loss as a learning tool, the Red Devils were able to play solid tennis up and down the lineup, recording a 5-0 victory Friday at Tippecanoe Middle School to finish the first week of the new season with a 2-1 record.
Tippecanoe began the year with a victory over Eaton, but then the Devils faced Bellbrook on Thursday and fell 4-1. Still, they were able to get something from the defeat.
“We had a really good starter match against Eaton, and that was a good match to see where we’re at,” Tippecanoe tennis coach Kaci Finfrock said. “Then we faced Bellbrook. That was a nice match to see where we fall and what we need to work on. After that, we needed to come out focused against Lehman.”
And the Devils did just that. It was particularly evident at singles, too, where Tippecanoe swept all three spots without dropping a game.
At first singles, Tippecanoe’s Kennedy Reeder defeated Lehman’s Diana Gibson 6-0, 6-0. At second singles, Ladia Coning defeated Alex Read 6-0, 6-0. At third singles, Jordan Jones — who picked up Tippecanoe’s only win against Bellbrook — defeated Alison Briggs 6-0, 6-0.
“We highlighted the positives after the Bellbrook match,” Finfrock said. “It was good to see the girls not get discouraged by the loss. A year ago, that match wouldn’t have been as close. The match scores may not have indicated it there, but we took most of those games to deuce. We highlighted the positives after that match, but we just couldn’t finish points. Today, we did.”
“We’re still making a lot of mistakes, and we’ve been trying to work on those things in practice,” first-year Lehman coach Tim Ungericht said. “I’m trying to work with the girls on things like keeping their bodies down, just the basics really. We’ve got a lot of inexperienced players. We do have two seniors, and they’ve got experience. We’ve just been facing strong teams off the bat.
“Miami Valley is one of the top 15 teams in the state, and Ada was really good, too — and they had 15 girls. We knew Miami Valley and Tipp were going to be tough matches.”
Reeder and Gibson played a solid match at first singles, with the Cavs’ senior able to keep long rallies going against Tippecanoe’s junior. But Reeder was able to finish off winners, luring Gibson to the net and dropping lobs just inside the baseline on a number of occasions.
“That’s a huge positive, being able to finish off those points,” Finfrock said. “Against Bellbrook, we couldn’t, but today we were able to do that. That’s huge for us, being able to learn from our losses.”
“Diana’s got talent, she just made a lot of those same errors,” Ungericht said. “I’m trying to work on her getting the ball deeper and hit more first serves. She needs to work points better and hit those short balls deep.”
Tippecanoe was solid at doubles, too. At first doubles, Ali Merrick and Victoria Nordquist defeated Emma Simpson and Sarah Gibson 6-1, 6-2. At second doubles, Sophia McDowell and Sydney Laymon defeated Ann Pennaparra and Melanie Brunner 6-2, 6-1.
Lehman travels to Elida on Tuesday before hosting Kenton Ridge Wednesday.
“We’ll get better as the year goes on,” Ungericht said. “Our schedule is front-heavy with a lot of good teams. And I’m new, too. I’m still getting to know the girls, and they’re getting to know me.”
Tippecanoe, meanwhile, travels to Carroll Monday.
“They’ve got a good program, and they’ll put us to the test,” Finfrock said. “But I’d rather have a tough schedule.”