For the Daily Journal
What normally would have taken two days has stretched into two weeks.
However, the two teams that will decide the Johnson County Girls Tennis Tournament finally have reached the championship round.
All that needs to be decided now is a date.
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Host Whiteland earned a spot in the title match by taking care of Indian Creek on Wednesday 4-1. The Warriors will face off against defending champion and third-ranked Center Grove (8-1), which defeated Franklin in the other semifinal Monday.
The Warriors (2-7) got out to a fast start and clinched the deciding third point in the No. 1 singles competition between sophomore Reese Johnson and Braves sophomore Katie Burkman.
Johnson, who has been slotted into the No. 1 position for the past two years, won in straight sets 6-0, 6-1, using an effective left-handed serve and patience at the baseline.
Growing into the position and finding her own comfort zone, Johnson said playing against top competition every time out has upped her confidence.
“I was nervous at first,” she said, “but my mindset has always been to play as hard as I possibly can and do it to the best of my ability. I definitely think that mental toughness plays a lot on the court and off the court, and teaches me to not give up on myself and always keep going.”
One of only two seniors on the Warriors team, Avneet Badwal defeated Indian Creek freshman Ali Harrison in straight sets at No. 2 singles, 6-1, 6-2.
In the No. 3 singles match, Whiteland junior Haley Darling got by Indian Creek freshman Brooke Coy 6-2, 6-0.
The Warriors’ No. 2 doubles team of sophomore Bri Harwell and freshman Sophie Venter breezed to a 6-0, 6-0 win against juniors Mya Piccone and Hunter Mackenzie.
The Braves (5-3) avoided the shutout with a win at No. 1 doubles. Seniors Sara Knight and McKayla Russell rallied to overcome a first-set loss and defeated Whiteland juniors Hannah Blum and Riley Burnside 5-7, 6-1 and 10-8 in the super tiebreaker.
Whiteland coach Mike Gillespie complimented his team, which has been fighting a uphill battle most the season.
“It’s all about perspective,” he said. “We try to focus on the big picture, and that means coming out, playing well and competing on every shot.”