Tension was in the air as the Lady Scots tennis team stepped onto the courts on Tuesday, March 29. At 1:45 p.m., the women prepared to face off one of their biggest rivals, the Piedmont College Lions. The Scots have struggled against the Lions for the past few years, and the match-up is always one full of emotion and heated battles.
The Lady Scots began the match with a definite advantage over the Lions. Two of Piedmont’s players, including their alternate no. 7 player, did not travel to Maryville due to an illness and personal affairs. Piedmont went into the match with a disadvantage of forfeiting their no. 6 singles match and no. 3 doubles match. MC was at a 2-0 advantage from the first serve of the doubles.
The doubles matches set a precedent for a grueling day at the Scots’ courts. Maddy Little and Polyxeni Pavlides of Maryville faced off against Nicole Parrish and Amanda Blackwell of Piedmont. Both doubles team battled hard, often going to deuce in their games, but Piedmont pulled through with the doubles win 8-1. Caitlin Jennings and McKennah Francis of MC next faced off against Karina Rivera and Durden Smith. Piedmont closed in the no. 2 doubles win 8-3, tying the overall match score to 2-2 going into the singles.
The Lady Scots took some time out before the singles matches began to try to gain back their mindset. The stakes were high as both teams were fighting for the alternative spot to have a shot in the conference tournament. With the start of the first three singles, the Lady Scots played with a fire in them to gain back a lead. The no. 2 singles spot was the first to finish, with Piedmont’s Smith defeating MC freshman Savannah Bain 6-1, 6-1. The Scots’ no. 1, Little, remained on the court along with no. 3, Jennings, as the women continued their fight against the Lions.
Jennings, whose singles match was one of the longest, fought an excruciating battle against Blackwell. The no.3 singles match was rife with controversy throughout. Blackwell and Jennings both got into several debates of questionable line judgements as well as disagreements on other calls. In the end, Blackwell defeated Jennings 6-3, 6-0.
“The toughest thing was knowing that every single person playing was trying their hardest, and that they were playing against some opponents who had no sportsmanship,” Jennings said. “Losing is never fun, but it’s even worse when you lose to people like that.”
This frustration seemed to ring true throughout the remaining matches on the court. Little’s match was the longest lasting match on the court and was also faced with heated arguments. Little and Parrish battled it out neck-and-neck for the entire match. Both players often questioned one another’s judgement on line calls. Both girls fought hard, but Parrish defeated Little 7-5, 7-6, bringing the overall match score to 5-2.
Remaining on the court were the no. 4 and no. 5 singles spots. Maryville’s Katie Stephens went up against Rivera at no. 4 singles. After long games that rotated between add and deuce points, Rivera defeated Stephens 6-3, 6-2. Pavlides, no. 5, was left on the court for the Scots and also was the only player to earn a win in action play. Pavlides went up against Piedmont’s Tatiana Burkett for a long battle. Pavlides scored the first set of the match 6-0, gaining an advantage early on. Burkett came back hard in the second set and fought back to bring the second set to a 6-6 tie. The ladies went on to play a 7 point tie-breaker to determine the winner of the second set. Pavlides succeeded over Burkett in the tie-break 7-4, bringing the overall match score to 6-0, 7-6.
“I just thought about playing not just for myself, but for my teammates and my coaches,” Pavlides said. “I knew my match was not going to make or break us, but I committed to play with everything in me. All I thought was fight for every point and move, and I did.”
The Lady Scots are now placed at no. 8 in the USA South Conference standings, behind Piedmont, as they prepare to finish out the remainder of the season.