HUGHESVILLE – Marley Green was comfortable with a three-game lead in the first set of her singles on Monday afternoon. Suddenly, the lead was just one game.
The Hughesville senior felt the pressure of the moment. But she also used the moment to take her game to another level. She would take more risks. She would work for winners instead of sitting back and waiting for Lewisburg’s Ayra Tufail to make mistakes.
Green carried that mindset through the last 11 games of her No. 2 singles match, helping the Spartans beat the singles matches in a 4-1 win over the Green Dragons. Green and No. 3 singles player Maria Duff make the adjustment from teammates in doubles a year ago to now two-thirds of Hughesville’s singles line-up. At times like those in the first set, Green had to learn to rely on himself. But that worked out quite well.
“It’s a very big adjustment,” Green said. “You’re the only one on the field and you’re back and forth and you’re in complete control. But mentally it’s harder and you have to tell yourself to get started because there is no one else who can tell you to pick it up. “
Green and Duff (6-0, 6-0 winner) joined No. 1 player Madison Entz (6-0, 6-4) as singles winners for the Spartans. The number 2 doubles team of Kylie Kilgore and Hannah Wertz took a 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 victory.
Grace Hilkert and Bridget Kinnaman took Lewisburg’s only win at No. 1 in doubles, 4-6, 7-6 (5), 10-6. The Spartans won for a second time after dropping their first four games of the season for teams that lost less than five times together.
It feels like the group is starting to get together. That’s in part because of the comfort that Green and Duff begin to feel as full-time singles players in their first year.
“I thought they were comfortable from day 1,” Hughesville coach Craig Weaver said. “They made the switch in the summer when we were training. And their attitude was great. “
“I had to realize that in the summer I had to be someone to go the extra mile because singles is really a big part of winning,” Duff said. “We can lose a match in singles or win a match. So I knew I had to pick it up. “
Duff’s last few outings weren’t what she’d hoped for, nor was she expected of herself. But she quickly finished Monday’s game. While everyone else was just warming up in their first sets, Duff was packing after a straight sets win in which she didn’t give up a game.
“I really beat myself up with the way I played,” Duff said. I knew I had to change, I just didn’t change. So this game really put me back on track and I now know how to find my way. I came out aggressive, put on my big girl pants and worked hard. “
Monday’s duel with Tufail was exactly the kind of match that Green likes to be involved in. She knows it’s just that kind of dogfight that will make her hard to defeat when the postseason starts in a few weeks.
As much fun as the games where she doesn’t give up a game, it is the ones on Monday where she has to take her game to another level. She and Tufail both covered more ground than Lewis and Clark on their long rallies. Green forced himself to take more chances and go for winners instead of leaning back.
“Some matches hit you back and forth and you don’t really get anything out of it”, Green said. “But if you have to shoot and take risks, that will really help you get into neighborhoods.”
“I don’t care what sport it is, you have to play better to get better,” Weaver said. “And when you play better competition, the best in you comes out.”
Despite losing in the top two singles places, Lewisburg faced competitive matches from Tufail and Bekah Vance. Mia Kakavage and Katelyn Fessler for a third set at number 2 in the doubles. And Hilkert and Kinnaman came back from a 4-1 deficit in the third set superset to take the Green Dragons’ lone win.
“Both doubles matches were a lot of fun to watch,” Lewisburg coach Sam Harer said. “We are a young team. I try to get them to be competitive, but also have a little fun. “
Hughesville 4, Lewisburg 1
1. Madison Entz (H) beats. Bekah Vance, 6-0, 6-4; 2. Marley Green (H) beats. Ayra Tufail, 6-4, 6-4; 3. Maria Duff (H) def. Sofia Waughen, 6-0, 6-0.
1. Grace Hilkert / Bridget Kinnaman (L) beats. Gina Budman / Taylor Hauck, 4-6, 7-6 (5), 10-6; 2. Kylie Kilgore / Hannah Wertz (H) defeated. Mia Kakavage / Katelyn Fessler, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.
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