Lindsay Crist walked off the court as her teammates, coach and Talawanda parents applauded her 6-0, 6-1 win over her Winton Woods opponent at third singles, which gave Talawanda a 3-2 win over the Warriors Tuesday, Aug. 30.
It was a day that came off the way coach Pete Thomas had predicted when the girls took the courts. He smiled as he told Crist that he was disappointed because every prior match that day had been decided by 6-0, 6-0 scores and she had given up a point in her deciding match. She appreciated the joke and enjoyed the moment because she had overcome the pressure of needing to win for her team.
They play on the tennis courts at the Oxford Country Club, where they have four courts. With five events each time—three singles and two doubles—one event must wait until someone else finishes.
Tuesday, it was Crist at third singles who had to wait for a court and she came through with flying colors, her one point allowed, notwithstanding.
“I keep her for last because she does not get rattled and keeps her head in the game if we’re tied 2-2,” Thomas said. “I’ll put her in there any time.”
Crist said she is proud of her coach’s faith in her ability to withstand the pressure of playing the final match and knowing she had to win for the team to win.
“I worked on it a lot,” she said. “When we began the season, I was like ‘Oh, no,’ but I got better at it. My goal is to play my best and not get frustrated.”
Tuesday’s win put the Braves at 7-1 for the season. They opened with a 5-0 win over Eaton and then beat McAuley 4-1 before a 3-2 loss to Princeton. Then , they came back with five straight wins—5-0 over Badin, 3-2 over Colerain, 5-0 over Northwest, 4-1 over Hamilton and then the 3-2 win at home over Winton Woods Tuesday.
“Last year, we lost to McAuley and beat Princeton,” Thomas said. “This year, we beat McAuley and lost to Princeton.”
Last year ended with Talawanda as Fort Ancient Valley Conference West Division champions and a 13-1 overall record. Thomas said Tuesday he was not anticipating that same record for 2011 but is optimistic they can repeat as division winners. Their toughest test may come today, Aug. 31, at Loveland, last year’s FAVC East winner and an area tennis power.
“I think (Loveland) will be the hardest match of the year,” he said.
A few minutes later it got even harder.
Sophomore Rachael Morton is playing first singles for the Braves this year and was having a tough time Tuesday against her Winton Woods counterpart, a strong contended in the league. On the last point of their match, Morton returned a shot which went out of bounds and as she turned to move back toward the center of the court, she twisted an ankle and collapsed.
Thomas said she did not seem to be in too much pain but, regardless of her condition today, she is going to sit out the match against Loveland to be cautious and save her for division competition.
Meanwhile, the Braves got 6-0, 6-0 wins from their two doubles teams—Julia Stone and Maggie Dowling at first doubles and Claire Winslow and Deanna Whalen at second doubles. The Stone/Dowling team is now 8-0 overall for the season and 2-0 in the FAVC West. Tuesday was their 25th consecutive win in match play. Winslow/Whalen went to 3-1 overall and 2-0 in the division.
Morton’s record went to 5-3 with a 1-1 mark in divisional play. Crist went to 5-1 at third singles and 2-1 in the division and is also 1-0 in one appearance at second singles. Harling Wespiser is now 5-2 overall at second singles and 1-1 in the FAVC West.
Also playing some second doubles this year is Laura Harlan, who is 2-1 (1-0) when teamed with Whalen and 1-1 teamed with Winslow.
Morton and Whalen are sophomores and all other members of the varsity team at seniors. Thomas is concerned about next year, but said the JV team and middle school have some strong performers so the Talawanda tradition should continue. For this year, he feels good about his team’s outlook.
“I love having seniors out there churnin’ and burnin’,” he said, adding that he has stepped up the level of competition for his team and will do so in the future.
This year’s team is senior dominated as was last year’s.
“This team is about as good as last year’s,” he said. “Record-wise, we may not be 13-1, but we try to get the best matches available.”
Morton moved up to first singles this year from second doubles a year ago.
“Offseason, she really invested herself,” Thomas said. “I’m pleased with that and she’s just a sophomore. I’m real happy to see that.”
As teammates offered congratulations, Crist said the secret to her contribution to Tuesday’s win was the result of not letting the last match of the day with all eyes on her get to her. A senior, she has played tennis for six years and is in her third year on the Talawanda varsity but the lesson this year is to keep cool under pressure.
“I try to treat it as any other match and, no matter the score, know that I did my best when I leave the court,” she said.