ll season, Karen Dringenburg and Emma Wood have been a part of, or shattered, school records.
The Seymour No. 1 doubles team added another accomplishment to their resume Saturday as they finished in the top-four in the state at the IHSAA State Doubles Tournament at Park Tudor School.
While Dringenburg and Wood fell to Carmel juniors Emma Love and Lauryn Padgett in the semifinals 6-1, 6-0, the final score didn’t tell the whole story of the match.
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Nearly every game went 30-40 or to deuce.
“The score doesn’t really reflect the match,” Dringenburg said. “We went to deuce almost every game. They were just able to put away points when they needed to.”
In the first set, the Owls were able to break Padgett when they trailed 4-0 to pick up a game.
“We got really close, almost every game was 30-40 or deuce,” Wood said. “We did the best we could, they were just a very strong team. We don’t really play teams like that during our season. Hopefully, we can play like practice matches in the future against teams like Carmel.”
Dringenburg and Wood, who were the first doubles team to reach state in school history, raised the bar for the next group of tennis players.
“It was the experience we wanted,” Owls co-coach Nathan Otte said. “I think this was the expectation for them last year, but they fell a little short at regionals. That feeling they had at the end of the season motivated them throughout the year. They had a goal in mind and got here and you can’t ask any more.”
While she wanted to win the whole tournament, Dringenburg reached her goal of reaching state.
“Its been a long journey, but its definitely been well worth it,” Dringenburg said. “Its always been my goal to get to state. I started my freshman year at No. 1 doubles and I knew I had four years to do it. We came up short last year, but this year we said we wouldn’t have any bad games.
“It was a great season, a great four years and a great career. Hopefully one day we will have someone get back here and win it. “
Wood, a junior, said this postseason was about Dringenburg.
“With Karen being a senior, we wanted to do the best we could,” Wood said. “We did it for her. I can come back next year and do it again. It’s amazing. No other Seymour team has gone this far before.”
In her final season, Dringenburg went 28-2.
“Pretty much anyone who was younger than her looked up to her,” Otte said. “What was unique about her is that when she came in her freshman year, a lot of older girls also looked up to her because they saw what she was doing. By her sophomore year a lot of girls were looking to her for leadership. She’s done a great job representing the school.”
Owls co-coach Jennifer Miller said Dringenburg likely holds the record for most wins in a career by a girls tennis player.
“(State) really puts an exclamation point to her four years as a player,” Miller said. “She has big things to look forward to in her college career at Franklin. This is going to be a great experience for her.
“She’s very tough. She just has that competitive mentality that makes her very strong. I think that brings everyone else up on our team. A lot of girls look up to her, its going to be hard to fill her shoes next year.”
The Owls duo started their season the second week of February, with conditioning, before finishing Saturday.
“Its been a great experience, as a coach, working with Karen and Emma,” Miller said. “They’ve both been very motivated for the past 12 months knowing that this was the goal. Just to watch their enthusiasm, intensity and competitive attitude, its been fun to watch.”
This summer, Dringenburg will prepare to play tennis at Franklin College and Wood will play in USTA tournaments to prepare for next season.
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Karen Dringenburg // Senior // Seymour
Career Record: 84-14
No. 1 Doubles Record: 81-14
Hoosier Hills Conference Champions: 2015
Team Sectional Championships: 4 (2012-2015)
Doubles Sectional Championships: 4 (2012-2015)
Regional Berths: 4 (2014 Finalist, 2015 Champion)
State Doubles Berth: 2015 (1-1 Record, Final Four)