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Delta girls tennis captures 20th regional crown

MARION, Ind. —Under the scorching May sun, Delta’s No. 2 doubles tandem of sophomore Kelsey Vest and freshman Rowan Hinds saw their opponent’s second serve tumble into the net.

The double fault secured the 6-0, 6-1 victory for the Eagles second doubles pair, but more importantly, it yielded the decisive third point in Delta’s regional championship match against Mississenewa on Wednesday.

The 23rd-ranked Eagles defeated the Indians 4-1 in the title bout, earning the program’s eighth-consecutive and 20th overall regional trophy — tied for the eighth-most in state history.

Delta girls tennis won its 20th regional title with a 4-1 win over Mississinewa at Marion High School on Wednesday, May 24, 2023.
Delta girls tennis won its 20th regional title with a 4-1 win over Mississinewa at Marion High School on Wednesday, May 24, 2023.

The victorious Delta squad was led by its reliable No. 1 doubles team of senior Janet Wegener and freshman Katie Manor, whose 6-0, 6-0 win over their Mississenewa foes gave the Eagles their first point of the night.

The pair relied on aggressive net play and consistency from the baseline to put away their opponents merely 45 minutes after the first serve.

Wegener and Manor are now 22-3 on the year and have not surrendered more than one game in their past five matches. With this wave of success, they are eyeing both team and individual postseason runs that have been characteristic of the program’s top doubles teams in recent seasons.

“I think we both think that we can go very far,” Wegener said. “I think we’re very confident in how we play.”

Delta No. 1 doubles Katie Manor (left) and Janet Wegener in the IHSAA Delta girls tennis sectional match on Friday, May 19, 2023.
Delta No. 1 doubles Katie Manor (left) and Janet Wegener in the IHSAA Delta girls tennis sectional match on Friday, May 19, 2023.

Last week: Delta, Blue River, Jay County girls tennis teams win sectional titles

Regardless of the pair’s fate in the state tournament, both Wegener and Manor have already enjoyed an accomplished 2023 campaign, on and off the court.

In addition to the team’s successful record, which features wins against state-ranked Westfield, West Lafayette, and Mt. Vernon, the duo has built a strong relationship after never before playing together.

Head coach Tim Cleland attributes Manor’s quick development and the tandem’s chemistry to Wegener’s veteran presence.

“If you're a young player … your eyes are naturally going to go to the person who's been through the war,” Cleland said. “Janet is pretty steady on the court. She's a good steadying influence for us.”

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Wegener, a 2022 All-State Second Team honoree in doubles, has experience unlike any of her teammates and will be a crucial piece to the blue and gold’s success down the stretch of the postseason.

Delta’s No. 2 singles player Brylee Beckley also shined for the Eagles in the both regional matches. She earned a spirited 6-3, 6-2 win in Wednesday’s final and avenged a regular-season loss to Alexandria by a resounding 6-0, 6-4 score in the semifinals on Tuesday.

“Tennis is a game of confidence,” Cleland said. “Good players also believe they're dangerous … so (Beckley) feels pretty good right now about her game. It's a good time to do that."

Cleland noted that Beckley (16-8) is “on a roll” as of late, and expressed his pride in the early contributions that underclassmen like his No. 2 singles star have made this season.

Delta No. 2 singles Brylee Beckley in the IHSAA Delta girls tennis sectional match on Friday, May 19, 2023.
Delta No. 2 singles Brylee Beckley in the IHSAA Delta girls tennis sectional match on Friday, May 19, 2023.

Delta’s seven-player varsity lineup is routinely filled with two freshmen and a sophomore, and a few other young Eagles have also gained varsity experience on a number of occasions.

Not only have Cleland’s young players touched the varsity court, but they have enjoyed immense success. The quartet of Manor, Hinds, Vest, and freshman Elizabeth Bamidele have combined to earn an impressive 49-8 varsity record in their first seasons at that level.

Providing guidance for the youth all season has been Iva Witter, who also notched a victory for Delta at No. 3 singles (6-0, 6-1). Witter is now 19-6 in her first campaign of varsity singles play after earning All-State Honorable Mention honors in doubles last year.

The lone loss for Delta came at No. 1 singles, where junior Gabby Knight fell to Mississenewa’s Madison Fuqua 6-2, 6-0. Despite the setback, Knight still hangs onto momentum from previous outings as she tallied eight-consecutive wins before falling on Wednesday.

Though Delta girls tennis has grown to be synonymous with success — winning 30 of the last 31 sectional titles — Cleland is intentional about fending off complacency and keeping his players focused on each task at hand.

“We try to prepare for every match ... and we don't try not to take anything for granted,” Cleland said. “You get yourself in a lot of trouble when you start thinking that they're just going to hand you the trophy because it says Delta on your jersey.”

Cleland’s group sets its sights on perennial power Homestead in Saturday’s semistate round, a match which he believes could result in a number of outcomes.

“We know this is going to be a really, really fun match,” Cleland said. “It's going to be a match that either team could win … 5-0 or 4-1.”

A win over the hosting Homestead Spartans would send the Eagles to their 10th state finals, and their fourth in the last five seasons (excluding 2020).

Though another historic season seems possible for the Eagles, looking past any given match is not a part of Cleland’s approach to coaching his teams in the postseason.

The longtime leader of both Delta tennis squads is looking for his girls to focus on the present, and for them to “take care of your 20%” throughout the remainder of postseason play.

Final Scores

Singles

  • No. 1 – Madison Fuqua (M) def. Gabby Knight (D) 6-2, 6-0

  • No. 2 – Brylee Beckley (D) def. Michaela Cook (M) 6-2, 6-3

  • No. 3 – Iva Whitter (D) def. Sophie Joseph (M) 6-0, 6-1

Doubles

  • No. 1 – Janet Wegener / Katie Manor (D) def. Avery Wilson / Kiera Frantz (M) 6-0, 6-0

  • No. 2 – Kelsey Vest / Rowan Hinds (D) def. Camille Arbogast / Asher Bernius (M) 6-0, 6-1

Follow Adam Altobella on Twitter @AltobellaAdam

This article originally appeared on Muncie Star Press: Delta girls tennis beats Mississenewa to win 20th regional crown