For Carmel High School tennis player Leila Antony, there could not have been a better ending to her senior year.
“Not having a season in 2020 (because of the COVID-19 pandemic) was really hard, because we were going to have a really good team,” Antony said. “We had a lot of potential. It was a disappointing way to end our spring. But this year as seniors, we wanted it even more. We wanted our senior year to be the best it can be. Our underclassmen were so good. We worked together to support each other. We all thought we deserved it this year.”
The top-ranked Greyhounds downed No. 2 South Bend St. Joseph 4-1 in the girls tennis state championship June 5 at North Central High School in Indianapolis. It was Carmel’s seventh IHSAA state championship in 2020-21, tying a school record.
Carmel shut out No. 6 Homestead 5-0 in the morning semifinals. The Greyhounds quickly got back to business after edging No. 3 Park Tudor 3-2 June 4 in the state quarterfinals at Center Grove. With the match tied 2-2, the Greyhounds won a three-set victory at No. 1 doubles.
“I told them we should celebrate (because) ‘It’s a great win. But no one is going to remember if we lose (in the semifinals) this great match in the quarterfinals,’” Carmel coach Bryan Hanan said. “We came out ready to go. The girls knew what the goal was.”
Carmel’s No. 1 doubles team of Hallie Reeves and Alexa Lewis came through again with a 7-5, 6-3 victory over South Bend St. Joseph’s Gracie Velasco and Dani Graham.
The doubles victory was the clinching third point for Carmel’s team win.
A few minutes later, Carmel freshman Nora Perkins won the second set against Ashi Amalnathan at No. 3 singles. With the match decided, they played a 10-point tiebreaker. Perkins won 1-6, 7-6 (8-6), 1-0 (10-8).
Antony topped Kate Bellia 6-3, 6-1 to finish 23-2 at No. 2 singles
Carmel seniors Katelyn Conley and Anjali Natarajan topped Alayna Campbell and Tea Lazareto 6-4, 6-0 at No. 2 doubles to complete a 27-0 season
“I considered them our guaranteed point,” Hanan said. “They would play No. 1 doubles on 90 percent of the teams in the state.”
St. Joseph got its only point at No. 1 singles when Molly Bellia beat senior Emma Brune 6-1, 6-1.
Brune and Antony were freshman starters on the 2018 state championship team.
“We worked hard for this.It was a goal from Day 1 this year,” Hanan said.