In early June, and with a handful of local patrons offering their help, Scotland Tennis Center director Tom Sheller completed his long-standing mission of resurfacing all four of the center’s clay courts.
Over an eight-day period lasting eight hours each day, Sheller and company scraped off the old clay surfaces, laid down eight tons of new top dressing, hammered 8000 nails into the courts and flattened the material into a playable surface.
The entire process overlapped into the first scheduled home meet of the ‘8.0 Mixed Combo Sandhills’ doubles league featuring 11 local-area tennis players. But as if rewarded for his ongoing efforts to improve his facility, Sheller watched as the Scotland County team went a perfect 8-0 in league play, with their last matches occurring Thursday night.
It is the first time in the tennis center’s history that Scotland’s mixed doubles squad has accomplished this feat.
“We’re very fortunate to have a facility like this in our small town,” Sheller said. “It’s not a club and we’re open to everyone in Scotland County. For a local team to go undefeated against other teams whose members pay thousands yearly to a club really shows you what we have brewing out here.”
Commemorating her 10th year as the Scotland High School boys and girls tennis coach, Jeanne Roller was no stranger to her mixed doubles partner during the league’s regular season. It was 19 year-old Will McDonald, who was Roller’s No. 1 tennis player for the final two years of his Fighting Scots’ eligibility.
The combination of McDonald and Josiah Boda helped spark a two-season run for the Fighting Scots tennis program that was its most successful in 13 years, as the two standout players helped lead Scotland to two consecutive 4-A SEC conference championships. In his senior year, McDonald paired with Boda to compete in the state doubles championship, a tournament that saw their team finish in the top eight of a 16-team field.
Ironically enough, McDonald helped make history yet again as a doubles partner, this time with his former coach.
“Will was the powerhouse of our team and carried us through the tougher matches,” said Roller, whose regular season partner was the youngest on the team. “He’s someone that has played since middle school, made a year-round commitment to the game and has found success with it. It was great to not just be on a team with Will, but see that his passion for the game extended beyond his high school career.”
Though Thursday night’s thunderstorms threatened to put a damper on the final meet of the Sandhills league, two of the three scheduled matchups were played in their entirety. Both were straight-set victories, with McDonald and partner Jinny Jones winning their match 6-1, 6-1 and Pam Naves and Joey Maley securing the 6-2, 6-0 victory themselves. Sally and Bob Ormsby defaulted due to the rain and the inability to reschedule the meet, but nonetheless won their first set 6-3 and were tied in the second before ending their night early.
Even if all three of Thursday night’s teams lost, Scotland County still would’ve clinched the Sandhills league championship. But the undefeated season is undoubtedly icing on the cake, and now the Scotland County mixed doubles team will advance to the USTA 8.0 Mixed Doubles Combo state championship tournament which is slated for September.
The Scotland County 8.0 Mixed Combo doubles team: