Arabians tennis downs Dragons, to face Greenfield-Central in sectional semifinal

FORTVILLE — Just four days earlier, New Palestine tennis knocked off Pendleton Heights 3-2 in the regular season. In a Wednesday, May 17, rematch to open sectional play, the Arabians needed to repeat in the two matches they won and turn around one of the other three matches, all dominated by the Dragons, in order to advance.

It was sophomore Gracie Criswell who changed her outlook and reversed the result for the Arabians.

Criswell, who lost to Ivey Simmons in the first matchup in convincing fashion, 1-6, 3-6, flipped the script after dropping the first set 2-6 and rolled to a three-set win with 6-2, 6-1 scores in the No. 3 singles match to help boost the Arabians into the Thursday, May 18, semifinal against Greenfield-Central.

Pendleton Heights improved to 11-8 with the win, which includes a 4-1 win against the Cougars earlier this year.

Sam Hammel continued her great season by repeating her earlier win versus Amelia Fleetwood in the No. 1 match 6-3, 6-3. Hammel improves to 17-1 this season.

The No. 2 doubles match was the second point for the Arabians in the first meeting, and Brielle Boynton and Claire Goodwin battled to a three-set 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 win to ensure that the Arabians had satisfied the first team goal.

The Dragons repeated their claims on the No. 2 singles and No. 1 doubles match as Lexi Miller handled Bailey Davis 6-1, 6-2, and Katie Settergreen and Josee King beat Gabby Kramer and Susie Kramer 6-3, 6-2.

The team competition came down to Criswell, who said the key to turning her match around was an increase in her confidence.

“I think that my mind-set was a little different than the first time,” she said. “I think I had more of a positive outlook to go out there and do what I could to help the team advance in sectional.”

The first set looked like it could be a repeat loss for the Arabians. But once Criswell took a lead early in the set, she said that was the shot of confidence she needed.

“It was when I got ahead 3-2,” she said. “Once I got that one-point that I was ahead of her, it made me push more to get to six first.”

She said the second set win to even the match not only boosted her confidence, it seemed to drain the confidence of Simmons.

“I think her confidence was down a little bit,” she said. “I think she got frustrated because we both didn’t expect that outcome.”

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Rob Hunt covers news, sports and other happenings in South Madison County. He can be reached at or (765) 778-2324.