The Halifax County girls tennis team lost handily to Jefferson Forest in both matches last year as the Cavaliers won 8-1 in the regular season and ended the Comets’ season with a 5-0 victory in the Region 4D playoffs last year.
It didn’t take long for Halifax to change its fortunes against Jefferson Forest as the Comets knocked off the Cavaliers 5-4 in their season opener Tuesday evening.
Both sides were battling more than each other as a wicked wind chilled the early spring air and wreaked havoc on trajectories and players’ hands, making things even tougher.
It didn’t go lost on head coach Donna Hudson.
“This year we had a great night in our opening against them and came out with the win,” she said. “We were not only battling JF, but it was just as much a match against the elements. Temperatures started at 45 degrees and went down to 35 before we finished. Pair that with winds of 17-18 mph and you don’t have pleasant tennis weather. The girls played with stocking caps and a glove on their non-dominant hand.”
The evening started rough for Halifax (1-0) as JF’s Mallory Marstellar knocked off Christina Bruce 8-3 in No. 1 singles action. Despite the loss, Hudson saw the match as positive experience for Bruce.
“[Mallory] was another aggressive player for [Christina] to learn from,” Hudson said. “She went down 0-5 before adjusting to the win and started sending balls back with her own aggressiveness. She won three consecutive games but it wasn’t enough to rattle a victory out of the opponent.”
JF’s Rita Zing followed with an 8-3 win over Myah Forest. Forest started the contest with a win but lost the momentum in the second set and never quite recovered. However, Hudson saw a consistent serve from Forest but one that her opponent was up for.
“[Mya] won the game early and it looked like an even pairing but she lost momentum and struggled to regain it,” Hudson said. “[Myah] showed her consistent strong serve but her opponent could return it and just continued to take games.”
The Comets got their first win of the season in the No. 3 singles spot with Abigail Baisch defeating Amelia Edmonds 8-5. A victory Hudson credited to Biasch consistent, aggressive style of play that tired her opponent.
“[Abigail] plays focused and steady, returning ball after ball until the opponent is worn out,” Hudson said. “She worked up a 5-2 lead before her opponent adjusted and became more competitive. [Abby] kept control all afternoon. Although they traded games for the last half of the match, her lead was enough to give her the victory.”
Halifax’s Francesca Potenza kept the momentum rolling, picking up a win in the No. 4 match, defeating Megan Bell 8-6. It was a war of attrition won by Potenza’s focus and patience.
“[Francesca] and her opponent were very evenly matched, they tied at 1-1, 2-2, 3-3, 4-4, 5-5 and 6-6 but [Francesca] kept her head in the game and her patience paid off as she pushed through the last two games and came out with both of them for the win,” Hudson said.
Meredith Duffer gave Halifax a 3-2 lead when ran past Kylie Wiltzius 8-3 in the No. 5 match. According to Hudson, Duffer’s style of play was perfectly suited for the weather conditions.
“Of all the girls on the court, [Meredith’s] personal style of play was most effective with the high winds, she always uses short direct hits with a bit of spin and that was exactly what was called for today,” Hudson said. “Her placement is getting better with every outing and she was able to use that to avoid having the wind take balls away.”
The Comets’ Kendall Crowder pushed Halifax’s winning streak to four games with an 8-4 victory over the Cavaliers in No. 6 singles action. Things didn’t look good for Crowder in the beginning as she dropped the first three games, but she made up for her lack of experience in the later games after settling into her own rhythm.
“[Kendall’s] inexperience was prevalent for the first part of the match,” Hudson said. “She went down 0-3 before settling down but once she gets into her rhythm, [Kendall] hits as well as anyone on the team and her hard-driving style got her back into the match and to the win.”
Doubles play started rough for Halifax as Marstellar and Zing knocked off Bruce and Forest 9-8 after winning a 7-3 tie breaker in No. 1 doubles action.
Baisch and Potenza helped the Comets bounce back with an 8-2 win against Edmonds and Raina Shah.
However, the Cavaliers finished the night on an up note as Bell and Wiltzius knocked off Duffer and Crowder in the final doubles spot.