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Luers ends SAC tennis title drought

The timing of the Bishop Luers girls tennis team couldn’t have been any better. The Knights mixed desire, talent and a little bit of good fortune to win the program’s first SAC championship in almost 20 years.

Led by a tough singles lineup, Luers finished 7-0 in league play with 3-2 wins over 2011 state quarterfinalist and defending SAC champ Bishop Dwenger and Concordia.

The Knights officially clinched the title with a 5-0 win over Snider on Thursday, but the wins over the Saints and Cadets were the cornerstone victories for Luers’ first SAC title since 1994.

“We have a great team with girls that desperately want to win,” Luers co-coach Brady McArdle said. “But we have been fortunate as well. Dwenger is reloading, and we caught Concordia on a night in which they did not play great. They would probably beat us seven times out of 10. But we are thrilled to be SAC champs. It has been a long time, and the girls are really excited.”

The Saints, who lost in the state quarterfinals, were hit by graduation losses this season.

“So in essence, we caught them in a rebuilding year,” McArdle said.

Nonetheless, the Knights are the champions.

Luers has been close to winning the title before but 3-2 losses to Dwenger have been a previous stumbling block. With No. 1 singles player and co-captain Samantha Rahrig and undefeated singles players at No. 2 (Natalie Rahrig) and No. 3 singles (Christina Ragan), the mandatory three points for team wins have come more often than not for the 16-1 Knights.

“That makes a really tough singles lineup for most teams to handle,” McArdle said.

The Rahrig sisters’ father, Jerry, is a co-coach.

Luers’ doubles teams are co-captain Abby Oberley and Maddie Brown at No. 1 and Andrea Choka and Courtney Witte at No. 2.

The team was without Regan and Choka for the first four matches of the year, and Oberley played at No. 3 singles in the win over Concordia. Witte and Choka won at No. 1 doubles that match to help the Knights.

“They played the best match of the year,” McArdle said of Witte and Choka.

McArdle credits the team’s work ethic that included 6 a.m. conditioning workouts for three weeks in February before even getting on a tennis court.

“Not many schools do that for girls tennis,” he said. “This team works incredibly hard, but they are also loose and like to have fun. This gave us an edge in wins over Concordia, Homestead and Dwenger. We never really got tight.”

Greg Jones is the High School Sports Editor for The Journal Gazette and has been covering sports in the Fort Wayne area since 1998. He can be reached by email; phone, 461-8224; or fax 461-8648.