GREENWOOD – Lauren Kittle and Ellie Sing appeared to be out of gas.
Park Tudor’s No.2 doubles side had fallen in the fifth set of their penultimate game against Munster to lose 3-2. The pair headed to the back fence to visit coach Andrea Calvert-Sanders. Sing leaned her face against the chain link fence, needing all the support she could provide.
“(We tell them) one ball at a time,” Calvert-Sanders said. “We don’t even tell them one point at a time.”
The Panthers slipped to the brink in the IHSAA women’s tennis quarterfinals on Friday at Center Grove. Then the ball started to bounce on the way to Park Tudor, as the duo eventually came back to win the set after a three-point tiebreaker.
In all, Kittle and Sing faced nine situations in which a lost point would have sent Park Tudor home. In each of them, the pair squeaked, fell, and made their way through.
Ultimately, Kittle and Sing were left with a 9-8 lead in the deciding set. A Kittle slam between Munster’s Karolina Sroka and Maria Delis later, Park Tudor had a 3-2 victory to advance to Saturday’s semi-final.
“I’ve never cried after a game before, but it was a tearful one,” Sing said. “I was so scared this would be my last game.”
Park Tudor started the day strong, with Caroline Kittle winning the No. 3 singles match 6-0, 6-1. The Panthers’ No.1 doubles team followed suit, winning 6-1, 6-2.
From there the Panthers started to slide. Jule Schulte struggled her entire match against former Munster No.1 player Shalini Tallamraju. The German exchange student failed to land a set and fell 6-3, 6-2.
Shalini Tallamraju’s younger sister Sanjana rehearsed her sister’s performance. Against his compatriot Lauren Long, Sanjana Tallamraju recovered from her 6-0 fall in the second set to win the third and decisive set, 6-2.
With the team’s score split 2-2, fans in attendance migrated to Center Grove’s Court 12. As fans from both teams found their seats, Munster sent the match to their third set by winning the second set 6- 2.
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Earlier today, Kittle and Sing came back from a 5-1 deficit in the opening set to win 7-6, with a 7-2 tiebreaker score. The shock of being down was enough to revive the pair.
“I think it was all about the momentum for us,” Kittle said. “After losing 2-5 we said they had more energy and needed more. Once we had the energy, we had the whole.
Park Tudor faces Center Grove at 10 a.m. Saturday in North Central. Despite the early start time, the Panthers will still have a chance to soak up the game that made Calvert-Sanders cry.
“It was an intense game and I knew it was going to be an intense game,” said Calvert-Sanders. “What a great game at the end of the day.”
>> Elsewhere: Carmel, Center Grove and Cathedral all advanced to Saturday’s semi-finals with 5-0 wins.