Girls tennis: Munster blanks improved Whiting squad
By Josh Lichtenfeld Post-Tribune correspondent May 22, 2013 9:56PM
Munster's Nikki Heiniger underhands a shot back to her Whiting opponents in doubles play at Highland High School on Thursday May 22, 2013. | Jim Karczewski~Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 24, 2013 2:26PM
HIGHLAND — Heavy rain clouds loomed in the skies over Highland High School throughout Wednesday’s regional. But not a drop splashed onto the courts.
For victorious Munster, the No. 14 team in the state, the setting was reminiscent of some of the hurdles the Mustangs have overcome in 2013. But the Mustangs say they’re not done fighting.
“I think everyone is playing at the top of their game and that’s what it’s going to take to be competitive with a team like (possible semistate opponent and No. 1 ranked) Carmel,” Mustangs coach Bill Heuer said.
The top NCC team (19-4) may have been bothered by a lingering back injury to No. 1 singles player Jessica Rooth (who brought home the winning point, with her steady 6-0, 6-1 win) and the recent decision by one of its starters to quit the team before tournament time, but the goal to take both the sectional and regional titles remained.
Munster got off to a fiery start in its second consecutive match with Whiting in the regional final. In just under 45 minutes the No. 1 doubles team of Paige Heuer and Nikki Heiniger, both members from notable Munster tennis families, blanked its opponent 6-0, 6-0 for the first point. Then No. 3 player Kasey Kulesa matched that score, which set up Rooth’s closing victory.
“If she starts out with a good return, I put it away and the other way around,” Heiniger explained of the duo’s strategy. The pair has dropped one match since playing most of the year together.
The match moved quickly enough that by the time Rooth (a member of the 2012 first-team all-state list) triumphed over Whiting’s Grace Huss, she wasn’t aware of her part.
“Honestly, I didn’t even know,” she said. “Looking back at it, it feels good that I got the third point to help out the team.”
But Whiting (16-4) also showed why it came in with a solid record. For nearly two hours freshman No. 2 singles player Brianna Baez battled in her 6-2, 6-1 loss.
“Last year we came here, we were in awe, happy to be here, happy to compete,” Whiting coach Arthur Young said. “This year our girls came in ready. This year we’ve competed, played some tougher teams on the schedule.”