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The past few years, to say the Georgetown College-University of the Cumberlands women's tennis match was vital would actually be downplaying its significance. The tightly contested dual-match has often decided postseason seeding. Both teams came prepared for the battle Tuesday at Georgetown's Lackey Tennis Center.
"It's going to be a long day," said GC coach Jessica Cunningham.
Even the players joked about needing to turn on the lights despite starting the match at 3 pm.
The significance was evident as two doubles' matches went to a tiebreaker. The Tigers cruised to the early 1-0 lead when Amanda Moore and Abigail Kennedy took an 8-2 win in the three spot.
However, it was a fight to the finish in the top slots as the ones – Natalie Fiepke and Shae Henry – and the twos – Kelly Swanson and Kaelin Roberts – needed to rally.
Fiepke and Henry took an early one game lead, but four straight UC wins made it 6-3 – going to eight. The sophomores showed moxie in taking the next four games and a 7-6 lead. The teams traded games until it was 8-8 for a tiebreaker. It was nip and tuck, 3-3 on the exchange, but the Tigers secured the next four points with timely hitting and patience for the win, 9-8 (7-4).
The twos trailed 7-3 when they stormed back to tie it at seven, trade games and force the tiebreaker. Unfortunately, the Patriots grabbed the early momentum for a 9-8 (7-0) win.
This put GC in the driver's seat though, needing only to split the singles' portion for a big conference victory.
"Doubles is so critical to what we do, and how we set the table for the match," Cunningham said. "Tennis is seen as such an individual game, but you have to be able to utilize the team portions such as doubles. I think this group does that very well."
Singles matches were played all the way out, full three-sets if necessary until the match was decided.
UC won in straight sets in the second seed to level the match at 2-2, but Georgetown controlled the next three matches to finish. Swanson sealed it with a straight-set 6-0, 6-1 win at the five spot.
Roberts battled through a tight first set, winning 7-5, at the three position. She then cruised to a 6-2 set two win and put the match at 3-2 GC.
Emily Novak won in straight sets on the four court to put the Tigers one point away from the very important conference win.
After Swanson secured it, almost all the attention was turned to a thrilling battle at position one. Henry was locked in against Isabella Dale.
The sophomore dropped set one, but refocused and took set two to force the third set. As the match was not yet decided when the two reached the third, they began the long rally.
It was back and forth before Dale finally pulled out a pair of game wins to solidify the final score – 6-3, 5-7, 6-4.
"That was a great match from Shae," Cunningham said. "It is what we expect out of her and know she can do. Dale is tough and I was really pleased with how Shae never backed down."
Georgetown returns to action 3 pm Thursday hosting Lindsey Wilson College.