By Josh Brown
Troy Daily News
TROY — Troy senior Mackenzie Nosker typically says the first thing on her mind.
Thursday, that thing was winning.
“Oh, I definitely wanted to win this match, more than I’ve wanted to win any other match,” she said. “Well, I’ve wanted to win other matches, too. But this was different.”
It certainly was — the Trojan tennis team came into its Senior Night match knowing that, unlike in year’s past, it would have to work for it against an up-and-coming rival Piqua team that has had a stellar season. But, aided by the strength of their senior, the Trojans were able to close out a competitive 3-2 victory in Miami Valley League Miami Division play Thursday at Troy High School.
With the win, Troy improved to 9-7 overall and 6-3 in division play, guaranteeing itself at least a .500 finish with one regular-season match left. Piqua, meanwhile, fell to 11-5 and 4-4 in the MVL Miami, having sealed its first winning season in more than 14 years — the Indians’ league websites only go back to 2005.
“We have had a good year. I think it may be the first year, probably since I’ve been in high school, so 40 years, that we’ve even been competitive with Troy,” Piqua assistant coach Bonnie Davis said. “And our girls were in every match tonight. They may not have won every match, but they were competitive.
“(Head coach) Kyla (Starrett) and I have really been working hard on the program. We’ve worked hard on their conditioning all summer, we’ve got them playing in the winter, and it’s really made such a huge difference.”
“Oh yeah, we knew it would be competitive,” Troy coach Mark Goldner said. “It was a major concern that they might get us today — and we told the girls that. And I’ll tell you what — we came to play today.”
That was evident at second singles, where Nosker defeated Alexa Knorr-Sullivan 6-2, 6-3 in the first final posted on the day.
“Mackenzie has been Mackenzie all year,” Goldner said. “She’s had a good year. She’s lost some competitive matches, but when we’ve needed her to come through, she’s been coming through.”
Both doubles matches wrapped up next, with Troy’s first doubles team of Cady Rhea and Esha Patel defeating Cassie Arnett and Skylar Cain 7-6 (5), 6-2. Piqua’s second doubles team of Grace Ryan and Rikki Ramirez scored a win, though, defeating Maggie Wannemacher and Kylie Ayers 7-5, 6-1, to make the overall score 2-1 and keep the Indians alive.
“First doubles struggled a little in the first set, I thought,” Goldner said. “But they settled down and played a real good second set. I was very happy that they came through today. Second doubles lost 7-5 in that first set, and sometimes that takes the air out of your sails. To me, that’s what it looked like happened. They just missed way too many balls.”
Troy senior Kit Wolke sealed the victory at first singles, though, defeating Arabella Partee 6-3, 6-3 to give Troy a 3-1 overall lead with only one match still on.
“It feels really good,” said Wolke — who has spent most of her season fighting her way back from an injury early in the year — of getting the clinching victory. “It’s been pretty hard. It’s been hard to get back into the swing of things, because I haven’t played as well as I’d like to. But lately I’ve been feeling a lot better.”
“Kit finally is coming back,” Goldner said. “I told her I saw it a little yesterday (against West Carrollton). I could see her starting to hit some shots that she had been missing and missing. And today, she took off where she left off yesterday, just driving the ball.”
And at third singles, Piqua’s Izzy King rallied from down a set to force a third-set supertiebreaker and win, defeating Danielle Robbins 3-6, 7-5, 1-0 (10-8).
“Danielle and Izzy had a great match,” Goldner said. “Danielle really hung in there, and I saw some things in her yesterday that carried over to today, too.”
Piqua hadn’t won a court in a match against Troy since 2007 and 2008, two matches that Troy won 4-1. Since then, they Trojans have won 5-0 each time the teams have played.
The Trojans honored their three seniors before the match: Wolke and twin sisters Mackenzie and Mallery Nosker. Mallery plays on the JV team.
“I definitely cried when they gave us our blankets. It’s starting to hit us that it’s our last couple times stepping out on these courts, and that’s really sad,” Mackenzie Nosker said. “I’d say to anyone that plays a sport and isn’t a senior yet to not take anything for granted and to always be close with your team.”
Both teams finish the regular season Monday, with Troy hosting Carroll and Piqua hosting Greenville, before competing in the Miami Valley League Tournament Tuesday.
Contact Troy Daily News Sports Editor Josh Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.
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