May 5—GOSHEN — It was already going to be a tough battle for the Goshen girls tennis team going into its match against Plymouth.
Combine that with a couple of players being out because of sickness, and the odds were too much for the RedHawks to overcome.
On a chilly night in Goshen, the visiting Pilgrims beat the hosts, 4-1. Plymouth improved to 8-3 overall and 5-0 in the Northern Lakes Conference, while the RedHawks fall to 8-4 with a 2-3 NLC record.
"No matter what, we want to compete," Goshen coach Daniel Love said. "We think that involves physical, mental and emotional toughness, and bringing it every point, not just sometimes, regardless of who the opponent is. ... We had players playing in different spots than they're used to playing, and we still want to do our best. And, I thought for the most part, we did that."
One of the players missing for Goshen against Plymouth was No. 1 singles player Lucy Kramer. In her absence, junior Naomi Kratzer was elevated from the junior varsity team to the top singles spot. It was tough sledding for Kratzer, as she lost 6-0, 6-0 to Pilgrims senior Miranda German.
"(Kratzer) was, rightfully so, a little bit intimidated at first when I told her what was going to happen," Love said. "It took a minute, she kind of recalibrated and then I told her, 'You're going to be 1,000 times better tomorrow than you were yesterday because you had this experience. And you're going to get a taste of what the next two levels above you are at.' That's how you get better, and you get a lot better in those situations."
Goshen's one victory of the match came at the No. 1 doubles position, as senior Joya Drenth and Kathryn Detweiler were 6-3, 6-2 winners. This is the first year the two have played as a doubles tandem, and it's gone well so far. Their only loss as a duo was to No. 22 Northridge, who's yet to drop a set at any position in NLC matches.
"They're having a very good year so far. ... Kathryn has played doubles her whole life, but Joya had never had before this year," Love said. "They're really close friends, so that helps them have really good chemistry out of the gate; they would hang out all the time anyway. Joya has been very coachable, trying to figure out this doubles thing — very different than singles, in some ways. And, (Detweiler) has been adjusting to a less-experienced player. ... They're together now, and they're a unit. They're playing great. I'm proud of them."
The regular season for girls tennis is quickly winding down, as conference tournaments begin next week. The NLC's begins next Wednesday at NorthWood High School, with the three-day tournament culminating with a conference champion. While the conference tournament is more of an individual tournament, Love tries to create as much of a team atmosphere with it as possible.
"I prefer the team atmosphere — tennis is an individual sport, it feels like, in a lot of ways — but we still want to get that vibe out of the tournament," Love said. "But, at the same time, you're playing for seedings at different spots, so it is what it is and you make the most of it.
"You're no longer in 'scouting mode' now. Everybody's seen everybody, and now you just have to bring it and see how you can play under pressure."
Plymouth 4, Goshen 1
No. 1 singles: Miranda German (P) def. Naomi Kratzer (G), 6-0, 6-0
No. 2 singles: Aubrey Vervynckt (P) def. Mara Schrock (G), 6-1, 6-2
No. 3 singles: Bella Kain (P) def. Sarah Harmelink (G), 6-0, 6-1
No. 1 doubles: Joya Drenth and Kathryn Detweiler (G) def. Taylor Delp and Ellie Jones (P), 6-3, 6-2
No. 2 doubles: Annie Plothow and Cassidy Riddle (P) def. Abril Diaz and Tori Barkey (G), 6-3, 7-6 (7-4)
Austin Hough can be reached at email@example.com or at 574-538-2360. Follow him on Twitter at @AustinHoughTGN.