A pair of conference matchups for the varsity women’s tennis Fighting Scots this past week showed head coach Jeanne Roller much of what to expect for the 2012 season.
And anchored by her number one-ranked player Charlotte Laurent, Roller sees her team once again contending for the SEC conference championship.
“The bottom of our lineup lacks experience and will be a weakness of ours going forward,” Roller said. “We also need to do a better job of closing matches once we jump out to a quick lead. But we are strong at the top of our lineup, and I think that our first three players will be tougher than most teams in our conference this season.”
In the third set of her marathon matchup with Purnell Swett’s Kali Strickland Wednesday afternoon, Laurent found herself down 4-1 in a grueling tiebreaker. Operating on the surgically repaired foot that caused her to miss the entire 2011 season, Laurent nonetheless battled all the way back to win the set and match 10-8 after splitting the first two sets with Strickland 5-7, 6-3.
The win caused Laurent to split her two conference-opening matches this week, as she lost to Pinecrest number one-ranked player Carolina Decker in straight sets 6-3, 6-3 on Tuesday.
While her team as a whole would fall to Pinecrest 6-3, Laurent and the Fighting Scots rebounded in a mjaor way to shut out Purnell Swett by winning across the board to take that match 9-0.
With the win over the Rams, Scotland improves to a 2-2 record this season and 1-1 in conference play.
Traveling to Southern Pines on Tuesday, Scotland would see number two-ranked player Munroe Buie lose her matchup as well to Pinecrest’s Chrissy Nuenburg 6-3, 6-2. But the middle of the Fighting Scots’ lineup (led by Leslie Floyd and Sallie Wegner) notched match-winning performances, as both Floyd and Wegner won in consecutive sets.
Scotland’s Kaylan Ellis and Hannah Cox would lose in consecutive sets to Piper Davis and Brittany Jenkins, respectively, to give Pinecrest the edge heading into doubles play, where the Patriots would take two of three matches to seal the 6-3 overall victory.
“I felt like we were in it to the end,” said Roller of Tuesday’s match against Pinecrest. “I feel that this year it will be a dead heat between Pinecrest, Lumberton and us for the conference, and I think we gave a great effort across the board against the Patriots. I was proud of them and hopefully we’ll have something for them next time.”
Aside from Laurent’s hard-fought victory over Strickland, the Fighting Scots handled Purnell Swett with relative ease at home Wednesday evening. From Buie on down, Scotland outscored the Rams 60-8 in singles games played and swept their doubles matchups as well, though Laurent sat out of her scheduled pairing with Floyd due to her aching foot.
“Her foot was hurting in her singles match but she wanted to finish what she started,” Roller said. “Afterwards we pulled her from doubles play so she could ice her foot down. We may have to take it easy on her so she can be ready for the crucial part of our schedule.”
The Fighting Scots will play their third match in as many days Thursday night against Hoke County.