By Justin Sokeland
BEDFORD – Bedford North Lawrence’s Zoe Ueltschi, battling the spring demons of pollen, left the courts with a bloody nose. So did, thanks to Ueltschi’s emergency-start victory, Loogootee.
Ueltschi, thrust into the lineup for her varsity debut when Sarah Gaither fell ill, recorded a key win at No.3 singles as the Stars upset the Lions 3-2 on Monday afternoon.
The Stars worked overtime, pulling out two three-set wins while beating Loogootee for the first time since Joni Stigall’s first season as BNL coach. This triumph, on her oldest daughter’s 18th birthday, was worth celebrating.
“Loogootee is a good team,” Stigall said. “They’ve always been a good team. This was a big win, one I didn’t honestly expect to get. This is right under beating Bloomington North and South, they’re that good.”
BNL was that good. Kiara Terry swept to a win at No.2 singles, while the doubles tandem of Abby Riley and Abbey Bridges rallied to a crucial three-set win at No.1 doubles. Which court would produce win No.3? Stigall didn’t know and held her breath.
Ueltschi allowed her to exhale. The left-hander won a tense first-set tiebreaker, fought though fatigue while playing the longest match of her career, and topped Hope Fischer 7-6 (8-6), 2-6, 6-2.
“I started to get stressed out,” Ueltschi said. “Joni said to clam down, it would be OK. She said something that really got me motivated.”
“She could have died, could have given up,” Stigall said. “She’s fighting for that spot, so that’s a good way to make us start looking at her.”
Terry cruised past Emily Wade 6-1, 6-2 in singles. The Abby-Abbey duo started slow, then kicked into gear with a lethal net attack while conquering Kashten Burch and Leonna Hedrick 1-6, 6-2, 6-2.
“They finally turned it on,” Stigall said. “I don’t know what they do in the first set. That has to get fixed because we don’t have time for that. I guess they always want to be last on the court. When they’re on, forget it. They’re hard to beat when they’re on.”
Bridges was especially effective as a net poacher, pouncing on shots to put away winners.
“In the first few games this year, I was really struggling at the net,” Bridges said. “I was too scared. You can’t stay back, you have to keep going. But tonight I had a big comeback.
“Abby literally picks you up, she won’t let you be down on yourself. Joni usually tries to encourage and keep it going. We don’t let it stay in our heads.”
Loogootee (5-3 with three straight losses) claimed No.1 singles as Melaina Tippery swept Presley Clark 6-0, 6-0, while the Lions also rallied at No.2 doubles as Madisyn Wade and Brittany Potts clipped Molly Simmerman and Angelica Godsey 2-6, 6-4, 6-4.
BNL will host Brown County on Tuesday.
BNL 3, Loogootee 2
1 Melaina Tippery, L d. Presley Clark 6-0, 6-0
2 Kiara Terry, BNL d. Emily Wade 6-1, 6-2
3 Zoe Ueltschi, BNL d. Hope Fischer 7-6 (8-6), 2-6, 6-2
1 Abby Riley and Abbey Bridges, BNL d. Kashten Burch and Leonna Hedrick 1-6, 6-2, 6-2
2 Madisyn Wade and Brittany Potts, L d. Molly Simmerman and Angelica Godsey 2-6, 6-4, 6-4