ELKHART — It didn’t take Krystal Grubb long to outdo big sister Katie Grubb, and that’s no easy feat in tennis.
When the younger Grubb and Elkhart Memorial High School captured the school’s first-ever sectional title in girls tennis earlier this week, it also meant they accomplished something the runaway-most-accomplished player in Crimson Charger tennis history never managed.
Katie, a 2009 Memorial grad, played her entire high school career at No. 1 singles without ever losing a Northern Lakes Conference match. She also won individual sectional titles all four years and earned a full-ride, Division I scholarship to Bowling Green University.
Yet Katie never experienced a team title as a Charger.
Now Krystal, just a freshman, has already experienced an NLC round-robin team title, NLC tourney team title, NLC overall team title, the program’s first-ever unbeaten regular season and a sectional team title, which was wrapped up with a 4-1 victory over Northridge High School on Thursday, May 22.
“My sister didn’t have the same depth I have," Krystal said Thursday. “My sister always kind of had to do it alone. I didn’t want that, and I knew we had a chance as a team.”
In fact, Krystal’s loss to Concord High School’s Jenna Landis in the sectional semifinals allowed her to focus even further on the group prize, because the loss eliminated her from the individual draw in No. 1 singles.
“I just really wanted it for the team,” Krystal said after setting the pace in the team final with an authoritative 6-2, 6-2 win. “I didn’t have anything to compete for as far as myself.”
Katie, now graduated from Bowling Green, was on hand to watch her younger sister play in the sectional final.
“It was great that she came and watched,” Krystal said.
While Krystal hasn’t attained the same individual success that Katie did right away, Krystal’s been no slouch either, unless one considers a 19-2 record (15-2 of that at No. 1 singles) a case of slouching.
Instead, Krystal has been the final piece to a powerful Charger lineup which has representatives from all four grades.
“We knew we had Krystal coming in this year,” senior No. 1 doubles player Haley Stouder said. “So we knew if we put in the work, this could be our year. We thought we could do it last year, but this year we’re even better.”
“Krystal made our singles lineup much stronger,” Memorial coach Alex Holtz said. “We’ve also got Corinn Whittaker, who can be a 1 singles player — who was a 1 singles player — and they’ve both been great. Corinn’s actually had more pressure on her, because we need to count on that point as often as we can get it.”
Whittaker’s obliged to the tune of a 19-2 record, including 3-1 when she was playing 1 singles early in the season.
The Chargers also feature Stouder and Taelor Grose with a 19-1 mark at 1 dubs, Taylor Freedline with a 14-7 record at 3 singles, and Hannah Dillman and Mady Robison with a 7-2 mark since being paired at 2 doubles.
Next up for Memorial (15-0) is Tuesday’s Elkhart Regional semifinal against Fairfield (14-4) on the Central courts.
For Krystal, that will entail a familiar face on the other side of the net – Falcon sophomore sensation Emily Mast.
Mast, an individual state quarterfinalist last season as a freshman, is 24-0 this season.
“She’s one of my really close friends,” Krystal said. “We’ve played in USTA six or seven times. I know she’ll be really tough, but if I play 100 percent, maybe I can pull it out.”
Krystal’s optimism emerges even though she also said Mast has won every one of their meetings so far.
More on Memorial/Fairfield
In addition to Mast being 24-0, Lauren Streit is 22-2 at No. 2 singles and Margie Stutzman 19-5 at 3 for the Falcons. The 1 doubles pair of Brooke Hochstedler and Leah Wimmer is next at 14-7.
While the Chargers have just two seniors in their lineup in Stouder and Dillman, Fairfield has just one in Wimmer.
And while Memorial is unbeaten, three of the Falcons’ four losses came to ranked teams on the same day in the Culver Academy Invitational — No. 14 Munster, No. 17 Penn and the No. 19 host school.