Whiteland girls tennis eliminates Greenwood

For the Daily Journal

Whiteland sophomore tennis player Sara Ullrich had a lapse that might have been costly.

Leading 6-4 with match point in the tiebreaker, Ullrich played a ball that was nearly a foot out. She realized it after her return and let out a nervous giggle.

“I was nervous with all the people watching,” Ullrich said. “I just thought ‘Oh, my gosh.’ I just felt stupid for a second.”

She ended up losing that point and then the next two. Ullrich said she definitely had to regroup mentally — and she did.

Trailing 7-6, Ullrich won three straight points to defeat Greenwood freshman Margaret Boyce, 6-2, 7-6 (9-7) at No. 3 singles. That was the clinching point in the No. 23 Warriors’ 4-1 victory over the Woodmen Wednesday in the opening round of the Center Grove Sectional. The Warriors (16-4) will face No. 8 Center Grove in a 4:30 p.m. semifinal today. Franklin and Indian Creek meet in the other semi.

Ullrich said she didn’t want to call it out and people say it was in. Whiteland coach Mike Gillespie said that is typical of Ullrich.

“She wants to make sure she doesn’t cheat her opponent to the point where it hurts her at times,” Gillespie said. “It happens all the time, but I’d rather her be on that side of the error that the other. I’ve seen players on other teams where a ball is that far in and they call it out, but not any teams around here.”

Freshman Candace Stephenson was the last Whiteland player to finish, beating Meri Yusef 6-1, 6-2 at No. 2 singles. Gillespie was pleased with Stephenson’s effort, as it was just her fifth varsity match.

Ullrich and Stephenson were the only Whiteland underclassmen in Wednesday’s lineup.

The Warriors’ Sarah Scott topped Marissa Linville 6-1, 6-4 at No. 1 singles, improving her record to 18-3. Whiteland’s No. 2 doubles team of Brooke Boehnlein and Kaylee Hoagland topped Ava Stein and Ashlee Walton 6-0, 6-3.

Greenwood’s lone point came at No. 1 doubles as junior Sophia Davidson and freshman Brooklyn Hanson downed Molly Brosnan and Natalie Cloer 6-2, 6-4 to stay alive in the individual doubles tournament.

“Any time you win, it’s a good win,” Gillespie said. “Have we played better? Yes. Have we played worse? Yes. But we got through and we play Center Grove, which we’ve been looking forward to since we’ve not played them this year. (The Trojans) always help us get better.”

Greenwood, which finished the season at 7-7, lose only one senior (Walton). The Woodmen graduated eight seniors in 2020, when the season was wiped out by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re young, so we knew it would be close a lot of times,” Woodmen coach Jeremy Runge said. “Finishing .500, I’m happy about that. We’ll take that any day of the week with how young we are. A lot of matches were 3-2 wins or 3-2 losses; it’s a coin flip. I was happy with how we played today across the board. The first set in a couple of matches, we didn’t start off too fast, but the second set across the board we played exactly how we wanted to play. They were a little better today. We competed, and that’s exactly what I wanted.”