By Paul Hines
MT. VERNON —
Midway through the tennis season, Catie Raney and Gauri Kaushal became double partners for the first time.
“They've meshed together pretty well considering they only had half a season together, and they changed partners,” Mt. Vernon coach Randy Knox said. “They've done a real nice job.”
The Lady Rams doubles team competes starting today in the girls sectional for a trip to the state finals. The duo joined together in the middle of the season after a back injury sidelined the Lady Rams top player Jade Knox. Raney and Kaushal enter today's Carbondale sectional as a No. 3 seed.
“We just know we have to play smart tennis and play extremely well in those matches if we're to advance, but certainly they have the ability to do that, if they play well,” coach Knox said.
Each of the 10 schools in the sectional has a pair of singles players and a pair of doubles teams competing. The top six singles players and top six doubles teams receive seeds. The top four singles players and top four doubles teams qualify for the state finals.
Raney and Kaushal went 10-2 together with the only losses coming to Teutopolis and Centralia teams. Knox said both players bring their own leadership abilities to the court. Raney, a freshman, is entering her first postseason as a varsity player. Kaushal is a senior.
“Catie's the higher ranked player so in some ways she has to take the leadership of the match,” Knox said. “Gauri because of her experience is going to provide some leadership in the match also.”
Mt. Vernon's other doubles team of Amanda Scott and Abigail Winkler earned a No. 6 seed. The two finished the year 13-5.
Shubhika Jain and Liz Hurst will compete on the singles side for the Lady Rams. Jain is 16-4 in singles competition, and Hurst enters the sectional after a 9-5 year.
Today's matches start around 1:30 p.m. The sectional concludes Saturday.