Gibson Southern tennis girls’ bid for a 10th straight sectional title began with Thursday’s 4-1 first-round win over host Princeton Community, while Tecumseh’s 3-2 win over Wood Memorial actually was a 3-0 sweep.

That’s because the Lady Braves, their roster just four players, forfeited at No. 3 singles and No. 2 doubles, and thus had to win all three on-court matches to prevail as a team.

Thus, although they fell 5-0 at Gibson Southern the regular season, the pressure is off as they eye the sectional final, set at 9 a.m. Saturday in Princeton because Tecumseh graduation ceremonies are set Friday evening.

Two hours after Gibson Southern junior Addison Brown raised her No. 1 singles season record to 21-1 by beating Princeton senior Brooke Shafer 6-1, 6-0, Tecumseh junior Breah Bailey outlasted Wood Memorial senior Hannah Thacker 4-6, 6-2, 6-1, at 1 singles in the day’s longest match.

Lady Braves junior Layne Pemberton beat Wood Memorial sophomore Madelynn Boyd 6-1, 6-0, at No. 2 singles.

Later, senior Samantha Clark and sophomore Katie Tooley beat Lady Trojans senior Ashton Stone and sophomore Taylor Houchins 6-4, 6-2, at No. 1 doubles.

“Since we have just four players, our four know they must all win for us to win as a team. That’s a lot of pressure,” said Breah Bailey’s father and head coach Roger Bailey, whose Lady Braves will pit a 4-10 dual record vs. 14-5 for Gibson Southern, whose Lady Titans are ranked No. 4 in the Indiana High School Tennis Coaches Association District 7 poll. Saturday’s team winner is apt to meet Evansville Memorial, No. 6 in the statewide poll and No. 1 in District 7, in Tuesday’s team regional first round at Evansville North.

“It’s nice to do this in my first year with these girls,” said Roger Bailey, former Oakland City University baseball player.”

Gibson Southern girls won the first four completed matches against Princeton, a team the Lady Titans beat 5-0 the regular season. Lady Tigers senior Syerra York and junior Kloe Key earned a berth in next week’s doubles sectional at Evansville North by beating Lady Titans senior Alison Kissel and junior Allie Sensmeier 6-3, 6-3.

“Princeton girls always bring their ‘A’ game when they play us,” said Gibson Southern Coach Kyle DeBord.

York and Key will take a 15-8 record into the doubles sectional, thus prolonging a Lady Tigers season that includes a 20-3 team record in Coach Matt Moade’s 28th season.

Brown, who due to a wrist injury did not play for the Lady Titans in 2018, after an Evansville North freshman season in which she did not play high school tennis because she was playing in travel tournaments that spring, will take a 20-match win streak into Saturday’s match vs. Breah Bailey.

Lady Titans senior Lexie Birch topped Princeton senior Emma Ault 6-4, 7-5, at No. 2 singles. This after senior Cori Jones topped Lady Tigers senior Bethany Walton 6-0, 6-2, at No. 3. Gibson Southern juniors Mary Hall and Sydney Goedde beat seniors Halle Foree and Krislyn Waters 6-0, 6-4, at No. 2 doubles.

“Getting to the sectional final was not unexpected,” said DeBord, a Princeton grad in his 12th season as Lady Titans coach.

“Our girls know our tradition and they do all we ask.”

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