Eagles gut out win over Westfield

Apr. 19—For the second-time in less than a week, the Zionsville girls tennis team saw their hopes for a conference win come down to the final match of the evening.

And for the second time, they found a way to get it done in dramatic fashion.

Zionsville's No. 1 doubles team of Ellery Walpole and Shuyang Li won a three-set thriller over Westfield's Jenna Berry and Bella Rivera, clinching a 3-2 win for the Eagles.

"They listen to coaching really well, and they stayed locked in on the things they could control rather than let their attention go elsewhere," Zionsville head coach Alex Wittenbaum said.

Li and Walpole dropped the first set, then were down a break in the second set before coming back to win.

In the decisive third set, they fell behind 3-0, but then rattled off five-straight games to go up 5-3. They lost the next game, but were able to get a break to end the match.

"We focused a lot more on consistency and making more shots," Wittenbaum said. "They were able to reset mentally and continued to think about strategy and controlling the things they could control."

It was the Eagles fifth match in seven days, all against ranked teams and the third to be 3-2 and come down to the final match.

The Eagles were 2-1 in those matches during the week, including 2-0 in HCC matches that lasted close to four hours.

"I think we are mentally strong and resilient as a team," Wittenbaum said. "We do the right things on a day to day basis and that discipline gets us through the tight matches."

Zionsville also got wins at No. 3 singles from Sydney Holley and the No. 2 doubles team of Kyla Gomez and Zoe Chappell.

The Eagles are 4-3 on the season and 3-1 in the Hoosier Crossroads Conference.

With conference two weeks away and the sectional not far behind, Wittenbaum said the group is in a good place.

"I am happy with the fight in our team," Wittenbaum said. "We have really great team camaraderie right now and tonight all the girls were staying and cheering for our doubles team — it felt like a football game almost."

After having the weekend off, the Eagles will be back in action Monday against Harrison.

It will be another five-match week for the Eagles, but they wouldn't have it any other way.

"We have the toughest schedule I feel like, and every team we face is in the top-30," Wittenbaum said. "It's a matter of managing our bodies and our hydration, but also staying mentally tough with the things we can control on the court — our targets, strategies and tactics."

Will Willems is the Sports Editor of the Lebanon Reporter. Follow him on Twitter @Will_Willems.