GOSHEN — While Fairfield’s 3-2 Goshen Sectional girls tennis championship win over NorthWood lacked the genuine suspense that the final score might suggest, there was one unusual twist that played out during the Falcons’ victory on the Goshen Middle School courts.
That was Fairfield sophomore star Emily Mast actually being involved in the last match going Friday, May 23. Often, she dusts her opponents faster than anybody else.
"It’s happened a few times," Mast insisted with a giggle of whether she’s been last off on other occasions this spring. "It was kind of weird everyone watching me, but it’s also kind of nice I guess."
It’s not that weird. Most who appreciate compelling tennis end up having their eyes gravitate toward Mast’s court even when there is action elsewhere.
Coming off a 21-2 record and a trip to the individual state quarterfinals as a freshman, Mast improved to a perfect 24-0 this season.
Still, she seemed far more interested in the fact that this time around, her team won a postseason championship as well.
"I’m so excited, because we’ve never been (to regionals) as a team," Mast said, alluding strictly to her own brief career, not to the Falcon program, which actually captured its 10th sectional title in its 17 years under coach Mike Filbrun.
"It’s still completely thrilling," Filbrun said of his fourth sectional crown in the last five years, “because for five of our seven girls, it’s their very first one. There’s a lot of girls that have worked an awfully long time for this, and they deserve it.”
Fairfield (14-4) advanced to an Elkhart Regional semifinal Tuesday, May 27, against Elkhart Memorial (15-0).
Junior Lauren Streit at No. 2 singles and sophomore Margie Stutzman at No. 3 overwhelmed their NorthWood opponents for the Falcons, neither allowing more than one game in any set. And Stutzman won her match while nursing an ankle injury.
Nevertheless, the team score stood at 2-2 before Mast closed out her 6-1, 6-2 win over stubborn fellow sophomore Sydney Wysong.
It stood 2-2 because the Panthers’ doubles were just about as dominant as Fairfield’s singles.
Tori Schwartz — on her 18th birthday — and partner Kennedy Walter won 6-2, 6-2 at 1 dubs for NorthWood (10-7), while Madison Sheline and Alaina Donegan prevailed by that same count at No. 2 for the Panthers.
Because they remained unbeaten in postseason at a No. 1 position, Schwartz and Walter (17-3 overall together) advanced into the individual tourney draw and likely will play next Wednesday at Elkhart Central. Wysong closed at 14-6.
"I thought we played well all along the line," NorthWood coach Tif Schwartz said. “We figured it would come down to seeing if we could steal one of the singles, but doggone it, (Fairfield’s) tough. It’s always tough to lose 2-3, and that’s been most of our year, but we had a great season."
Fairfield 3, NorthWood 2
Emily Mast (F) def. Sydney Wysong 6-1, 6-2. Lauren Streit (F) def. Megan Reed 6-1, 6-1. Margie Stutzman (F) def. Hannah Walter 6-0, 6-1.
Kennedy Walter/Tori Schwartz (N) def. Brooke Hochstedler/Leah Wimmer 6-2, 6-2. Madison Sheline/Alaina Donegan (N) def. Hannah Toole/Kirsten Toole 6-2, 6-2.
Records: Fairfield 14-4, NorthWood 10-7.
Next: Fairfield vs. Elkhart Memorial in Elkhart Regional semifinal Tuesday, May 27, at Elkhart Central, 5 p.m.; Angola vs. East Noble or Westview in other semifinal Tuesday; championship at 5 p.m. Wednesday.