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Giants, Argylls to meet for sectional title

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GIANTS: Marion’s Sophie Schenck hits a winner during the No. 2 doubles match in the Giants’ 4-1 win over Mississinewa in a Marion Sectional semifinal on Wednesday. Schenck and Anna Wuertley defeated Hallie Sullivan and Issy Leach, 6-0, 6-0. The Giants meet Madison-Grant today at 5 p.m. in the sectional championship.
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ARGYLLS: Madison-Grant’s Kasey Cleaver hits a serve during her 6-0, 6-1 win at No. 2 singles over Blackford’s Ashley Williams on Wednesday. The Argylls swept the Bruins, 5-0, to advance to the Marion Sectional championship against the host-Giants today at 5 p.m. Scott Hunt/shunt@chronicle-tribune.com

By CHUCK LANDIS - clandis@chronicle-tribune.com

Mississinewa girls’ tennis coach Bruce Fleming marveled that it wasn’t a typical match with Marion at Wednesday afternoon’s sectional semifinal round.

There were no epic three-hour, three-set matches decided on tiebreakers and few long points. No, the Giants asserted control early for a 4-1 victory at Bill Beekman Courts in around 1 1/2 hours and ended the Indians’ reign as sectional champions.

“They were ready to play,” Marion coach Doug Porter said of his team. “We were focused from the start and played a complete match from beginning to end. We wanted to make sure we got off to a great start, and that’s what we did ... a good team effort.”

Marion (13-5) plays Madison-Grant (15-6) at 5 p.m. for the sectional title. The Argylls advanced with a 5-0 victory over Blackford in the other semifinal.

Giants singles players Kayla Dubuque at No. 1 and Jaden Sebastian at No. 3 both were dominant and posted identical 6-1, 6-0 victories. Dubuque, though, did engage in some long volleys with Indians counterpart Heidi Rowley but ultimately won most of the important points.

The first time they met in the season opener April 4, Dubuque was playing her first match since ACL surgery 10 months earlier and pulled out a tight 6-4 first set and then cruised 6-1 to clinch the match. Dubuque still plays with a knee brace which she occasionally adjusted during the match but was showing no other ill effects from the injury.

“Kayla had a strategy going into and executed it very well,” Porter said. “There were a lot of close games that first set, and 6-1 that was a deceptive score. The first game in the second set was a long game, too, with some deuces and if Heidi could have won it might have changed the momentum a little bit.

“But once Kayla won that game it set the course for the second set and Kayla won some of the big points. That’s the way tennis goes, who can win the big points.”

Sebastian, a freshman, was playing No. 2 doubles in the first meeting, and  Maggie Herring defeated Sophie Schenck in the No. 3 singles match for the Indians’ only point.

“Jaden followed our gameplan and is continuing to get better and playing great tennis right now,” Porter said.

Tyra Stanley completely flipped the script in her rematch with Claire Hendricks at No. 2 singles. Hendricks won the regular season match in a third set tiebreaker after four hours, but Stanley dominated 6-1, 6-0 to deliver the Indians their only point Wednesday.

“That was awfully fun to watch Tyra’s match,” Fleming said. “I thought it was going to help us as our players looked over to see what was happening on that court that it would give them a little bit of extra energy and confidence and being excited to be out there and have a chance.

“I thought the courts next to them did play well,” he continued. “I thought Heidi played well and Ella (Frantz) and Taylor (Kern) at one doubles played well. We didn’t make as many adjustments as we needed to and that’s my fault.”

Marion’s No. 1 doubles of seniors Courtney Kreisher and Sophia Porter did hold off the all-freshman tandem of Frantz and Kern 6-2, 6-2 for the match-clinching point just moments before Dubuque wrapped up her match with Rowley.

Mississinewa finished 10-6 with an entirely underclassmen lineup.

“Marion was just too much for us,” Fleming said. “We didn’t play badly and didn’t play near our best, but we didn’t quit or back down and we’re going to learn from this match and keep going forward.”

Madison-Grant had also defeated Blackford in a regular season match and lost just seven games in their sectional encounter. The tightest match was at No. 1 singles where Sadie Wilson pulled off a 6-2, 6-2 victory over the Bruins’ Tori Baker.

The Argylls also received singles wins from Kasey Cleaver (6-0, 6-1) at No. 2 and Lizzy Whybrew (6-2, 6-0) at No. 3. The doubles teams of No. 1 Kayla Comer and Brooke Butcher and No. 2 Carley Bramel and Sidney Presnall did not lose a game against their Bruins counterparts.

“We started out a little slow in a couple spots and Blackford seemed to pick it up a little bit from when we played them in the season,” Argylls coach Tony Pitt said. “But we calmed down pretty early after three or four games in the first set and then put our will on them and kinda took advantage of some opportunities we had.”

Marion defeated Madison-Grant 5-0 in the regular season although Butcher and Comer forced a third set at No. 1 doubles and Whybrew dropped a close straight-set decision to Sebastian at No. 3 singles.

“They’re a beast,” Pitt said of Marion, “but we had some very competitive matches. ... We have to play very well and definitely need to be on top of our game, but we can compete with them and we’re looking forward to the challenge that we have.”