Photo by Gary Nieter, Times-Union

Whitko senior Kayla Schipper makes solid contact with the ball during her No. 1 singles match against Three Rivers Conference for Northfield Thursday night.
Photo by Gary Nieter, Times-Union Whitko senior Kayla Schipper makes solid contact with the ball during her No. 1 singles match against Three Rivers Conference for Northfield Thursday night.
SOUTH WHITLEY – New Whitko girls tennis coach Calvin Sellers likely wasn’t happy with the outcome Thursday, a 3-2 home loss to Three Rivers Conference foe Northfield.

What Sellers was happy about was the fight his team showed against the Norse. The Wildcats dropped the first set in all five matches, but came back to win two three-set affairs.

“We didn’t get the victory tonight, but I was proud of how everyone played,” Sellers said.

In her No. 1 singles match, Kayla Schipper dropped her first set 3-6 to Northfield’s Macie Sears. Schipper was able to find her serve in the windy conditions, and consistently charged the net for put-away volleys in winning the second set 6-1.

Sears broke Schipper’s serve in the fourth game of the third set to take a 3-1 lead before the Wildcat senior charged back to win 6-4.

“(Charging the net) is something she does naturally,” Sellers said. “But that’s exactly what I look for in my singles players – to be an aggressive player and once they hit a nice approach shot, to come into the net and make the shot for the easy point.

“Kayla does that extremely well, but still wants to improve upon it, and that’s something we’re going to work on. But overall, she does that naturally and that’s pretty impressive.”

At No. 3 singles, freshman Katherine Ousley was the other three-set winner for the Wildcats, beating Ashley Lyons 1-6, 6-1, 6-4.

“The first set did not go Katherine’s way. She mentally refocused, and we talked about how to switch some strategies to try and make it work, and she ran with it,” said Sellers. “That’s what she’s been doing with her first few matches; you give her a strategy and she executes it very well. Tonight, it was enough to get her the victory.”

Senior Mahkinsey Myers dropped her first set 6-3 to Northfield senior Kelsie Thompson, and was down 4-1 in the second. Then she battled back to make things interesting before dropping the second set 6-4.

Juniors Bailey Wright and Fransesca Taddei dropped a pair of tightly contested sets at No. 2 doubles, falling 6-3, 7-5 to Tori Bogert and Alyssa Hampert.

At No. 1 doubles, freshmen Jayie Thomas and Kylie Fugett suffered a shutout loss to Northfield senior Erin Whetstone and sophomore Lyndsey Carter. But Sellers sees a bright future for the duo and the rest of the young Wildcat squad.

“We have 15 players, and 10 of them are freshmen,” the coach said. “We have two freshmen playing the one-doubles position. They’re naturally gifted, they’re athletic, they’re both still learning a lot about the game, but they’re learning very fast. Everything I coach them to do, they incorporate it.

“They’re going to continue to get better and better as the season goes on. It’ll probably be a little further down the road before you start to see them get some victories, but I’m optimistic about how those two are going to turn out.”

Up next for the Wildcats is the Fort Wayne South Side tournament Saturday.