The Scotland girl’s varsity tennis team was down 3-2 to chief conference rival Pinecrest Monday night when fifth-ranked player Kaylan Ellis found herself locked in a grueling battle.
Facing off against the Patriots’ Brittany Jenkins, Ellis would eventually take the match after a 10-7 tie-breaker in the third set to pull the Fighting Scots into a 3-3 tie heading into doubles play.
The clutch performance of Ellis would propel Scotland to a dramatic 5-4 overall match victory over Pinecrest, which coach Jeanne Roller calls “the biggest victory of the season.”
The win gives Scotland a 7-1 conference record (their only loss coming to Pinecrest) and a tie atop the conference with the Patriots.
Perhaps most importantly, it was Scotland’s first regular-season victory over Pinecrest since the 2007 season.
“After four years of being expected to lose to Pinecrest, it shows a lot about this team that we were able to overcome it last night,” said Scotland senior and number two-ranked player Munroe Buie. “We all wanted the win really bad, and it means a lot because we worked so hard to do it.”
Scotland’s third-ranked player Leslie Floyd was the first to finish her singles match Monday evening, defeating Karen Smith in consecutive sets (6-0,6-0) to get the Fighting Scots off to a strong start. Floyd would be followed by Sallie Wegner, who also won in consecutive sets (6-3, 6-4) to best Pinecrest’s Paige Summer and give Scotland a early 2-0 lead.
Like the marathon match that Ellis competed in, Hannah Cox (Scotland’s sixth-ranked player) also found herself in a third-set tie-breaker with Delaney Kjellison. But Cox would come out on the losing end, losing her third and deciding set 10-7 to give Pinecrest their first match point of the evening.
It would be the first of three consecutive wins for the Patriots, as Charlotte Laurent and Buie (the former being the number one-ranked player on the Scotland squad) would fall in straight sets to give Pinecrest the 3-2 advantage.
And that’s when Ellis came through in the clutch with her three-set victory.
“Kaylan was my last singles player, and the way she battled to give us a point when we needed it most was fantastic,” said Roller of Ellis, who is currently in only her second year ever of playing tennis.
The match between Scotland and Pinecrest would be decided in doubles play, which ultimately boiled down to a best-of-three contest.
The first pairing to finish was Scotland’s duo of Cox and Morgan Haywood, which ended in a 8-2 loss to the Patriots’ Kaitlyn Newman and Jose Lee.
It would be the final point that Pinecrest registered on the night.
Buie and Wegner defeated the Pinecrest tandem of Smith and Summer 8-2, and shortly afterward, the Scots’ combination of Laurent and Floyd would close the match out with an 8-3 victory. Both Laurent and Buie avenged their losses in singles competition.
“These girls were fired up and wanted to take it to Pinecrest,” Roller said. “They had a purpose when they got on the court, and after the win they cheered along with the fans that were there. It was most certainly a community win.”
After the huge win, Scotland has just two remaining matches on their schedule, both occurring this week. The Fighting Scots will travel to Lumberton Tuesday night to take on the Pirates, then two days later will close their regular season out with a home match against Richmond. Both matches are scheduled to begin at 4:00 p.m.