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Columbus tops SEHS
South Effingham No. 2 singles seed Jessie Kessler prepares to serve in her quarterfinals match with Amanda Auerbach of Colulmbus. - photo by Photo by Pat Donahue

In the middle of her match at No. 3 singles, Columbus’ Erin Sexton crumpled to the court, her left ankle badly twisted. Her left knee was already in a full brace and she had a wrap on her right knee.

After a 15-minute delay, Sexton hobbled back to the court and pulled out a 6-4, 6-4 win Friday over South Effingham’s Katie Tanner, clinching the match for the Lady Blue Devils and sending them to the Class AAA tennis semifinals.

“We were counting on her,” Columbus coach Brenda Smith said. “She played awesome after she hurt her ankle. I’m just proud of her to have a bad knee and a hurt ankle and to want to play. That’s her attitude and she’s a winner.”

Sarah Cassman — headed to the Air Force Academy to play tennis next year — took No. 1 singles 6-0, 6-0 from South Effingham’s Megan Dunbar, and Amanda Auerbach battled past Jessie Kessler 6-4, 6-2 at No. 2 singles.

Both doubles matches were still in progress when Sexton finished off her win, just moments before Katherine Perrin and  Ciara Knowles topped Emily Sholtis and Megan R. Cripe 7-6 (7-2), 7-6 (7-5) at No. 2 doubles for the Lady Mustangs’ lone match win. Cassie Hiatt and Allison Williford were tied at one set apiece with Columbus’ Jienna Hackaday and Katie Bishop when that match was called.

The loss was the fifth straight for the Lady Mustangs in the quarterfinals.

“This is the best quarterfinal match my team has played,” South Effingham coach Christi Wood said. “I felt like they played hard. They gave it all they had.”

Having won one doubles match and tied in the other when it was called off, Wood wondered what might have been had the Lady Mustangs taken a singles match from the Lady Blue Devils.

“It could have gone either way,” she said. “Columbus is a good team, and it makes me feel better that we were in the match with them.”

Columbus has made the semifinals four straight years, but fell in the semifinals last year.

“As a team, we have stepped it up a notch,” Smith said. “I felt we were playing our best toward the end of the season.”