With the match hanging in the balance, Crawfordsville girls’ tennis pair of seniors came through in a big way.
The Athenians had notched wins at No. 3 singles and No. 1 doubles and led 2-1 over Southmont — needing a final win at either No. 1 or No. 2 singles.
And Lauren Hale and Hannah McLean rose to the occasion.
Hale finished off Mallory Murphy 6-2, 6-4 in the No. 1 spot to seal the Athenian win, while McLean overcame an early 1-0 hole to defeat Southmont freshman Hanna Long 1-6, 6-2, 6-3 at No. 2 singles.
“I loved our two seniors,” Crawfordsville coach Jeff Strickland said. “One and two singles, big points, last two on the court and both found a way to win and that was very encouraging from both Lauren and Hannah.”
Crawfordsville won the match 4-1 with Cathleen McGrady and Ella Hudson beating Megan Scheidler and Madison Murphy 6-3, 6-2 at No. 1 doubles and Samantha Rohr beating Bailey Barker 6-0, 6-1 at No. 3 singles.
Southmont’s lone win came at No. 2 doubles with Marley Jones and Dori Frederick beating Lilly Klingbeil and Elyse Widmer 6-4, 6-2.
“I was really encouraged by our underclassmen in particular,” Southmont coach Rob Reimondo said. “They played really well. I think our upperclassmen were a little surprised, and they now see what they have to go against this season and we have a lot of work to do.”
Early in the season, Reimondo is seeing the carry over from missing the 2020 season — even with several returning pieces from the 2019 team that lost in the sectional final.
“I really think that playing in live competition versus hitting off a ball machine or even hitting in practice is all the difference for our team,” he said. “When it’s real, you have to take your game up another notch. When the ball comes right back at your feet, you have to be ready for that and that’s something we’re going to have to work through. Kudos to Crawfordsville, they had a great match today and are going to have a good season.”
In the same token, Strickland has been encouraged by the way the Athenians have rallied around each other.
“We loved the girls effort tonight,” he said. “And that’s something we’ve talked about a lot is just that these girls give it their all, they’re focused, and they compete. And the excitement and energy was really encouraging. And I think that’s the thing from not having last season, just seeing how much the team cares about each other, how much they’re doing this together is encouraging. That team chemistry has been cool to see early.”