Lady Owls remain unbeaten
CHILLICOTHE -- The pall which could have hung over the Trenton Quad girls' tennis meet Saturday didn't affect the quality of play.
With the Lady Bulldogs team bowing out, after one of its player's fathers died from an accident -- a misfired cannon during the previous night's football game -- Marshall was left to play Chillicothe and Savannah. Although MHS head coach Tom Sandwith considered both "fine teams (with) exceptional players up and down the line," the Lady Owls kept alive their season-opening winning streak.
"Overall we gained some great experience," said Sandwith after watching his team beat the Lady Savages (3-2), 8-1, and Lady Hornets (2-3), 6-3. "This type of competition will help us improve."
The Birds were unexpectedly grounded early in their match against Savannah, with senior Ashley Fann taking her first loss of the season at No. 1 singles and senior Katy Brown having to fight to survive. The Pro-8 format didn't help, because -- unlike best-two-out-of-three contests -- the quicker conclusion makes catching up more difficult.
That's what happened to Fann, who fell behind senior Mindy Buschbom 7-1 and won five of the next six games to pull to within 7-6 before being beaten. Brown was down 6-3 to senior Angela Campbell -- Buschbom's state-qualifying doubles partner last year -- but fought back to force a tiebreaker, winning it 7-5.
"It was a great comeback," Sandwith declared. "Both girls showed the never-give-up desire which is a trademark of MHS girls' tennis."
Senior Beth Wright (8-0) and juniors Emily Chevalier (8-3) and Kayla Barr (8-2) won without too much difficulty, but junior Gerri Ravenhill was pushed by junior Kelly Lewis before winning a 9-7 duel.
The doubles matches were easily won by the deeper Marshall squad. Juniors Katie Markey and Sara Kelly remaining undefeated with an 8-2 decision and the teams of senior Tori McRoberts and sophomore Ariel Parkhurst and sophomores Krystle Chase and Bethany Shannon won by 8-1 margins.
That set up a rematch with Chillicothe, which the Lady Owls had beaten on the same courts 10 days earlier, by the same 6-3 score. The Lady Hornets did some lineup switching -- flipping their top two and Nos. 3 and 4 -- but the only player who won both times out was junior Megan Beetsma, beating Wright at No. 3, 8-5. The other winner from the Aug. 30 dual, junior Amanda Hardie, was felled by Ravenhill at No. 4, 8-5.
"Gerri used a lot of strategies to beat her opponent," Sandwith explained. "She played a backboard and used the same style of play to force errors."
Fann got by senior Megan Stephens, 8-6 -- rallying from the brink of elimination, down 6-5 -- but the freshman who gave Fann trouble during the prior meeting got the best of Brown. Sandwith considers Allison Conrad, who claimed a 9-8 (7-4) victory at No. 2, an "upcoming sensation" of the Lady Hornets -- calling her tilt with Brown "the match of the day."
"This was one of the most exciting matches that we've seen played in some time; a hard-fought, back-and-forth match," he remarked. "It was the net play and cross-court shots of Brown against the baseline play of Conrad."
Chevalier was an 8-5 winner and Barr notched an 8-1 decision.
The only doubles loss of the day for Marshall was at No. 1, where Markey and Kelly were beaten for the first time this season, 8-6, by sophomore Devon Doss -- dropping down from No. 5 singles -- and senior Katie Thompson, who missed the first match.
McRoberts and Parkhurst blanked their opponents and the Chase-Shannon team stretched its record to 5-0 with an 8-3 victory.
"The doubles teams continue to look promising as they continue their winning ways," Sandwith said. "
The Lady Owls (6-0) have a busy week ahead, beginning with today's home match against NCMC foe Mexico, the third clash of the season with Chillicothe on Thursday and the eight-team MHS Tournament on Saturday.