When a small group of players gathered this spring for Polk County’s first girls tennis practice, senior Julia Griffin had a message for head coach Richard Davis.
“Julia promised me she was talking to the soccer players. She said the soccer players were going to come out,” Davis said. “She said, hang on, the soccer players are coming.”
Arrive, those extra players did – and brought quality along with quantity.
Polk County handed Owen a 6-3 setback Thursday at Polk, earning the Wolverines a share of the Western Highlands Conference regular-season championship. It marks the fourth straight season that Polk County has finished with at least a share of the WHC title.
Perhaps fittingly, two of the soccer players that Griffin talked into joining the team delivered two key points in singles that helped the Wolverines win five of the day’s six matches. Sophomore Ella Waldman avenged an earlier loss to Bailey Mundy at No. 4 with a 10-4 win while Belen Akers rallied from multiple deficits to claim an 11-10 (7-4) victory.
They joined Griffin, Sara Muse and Kristen Hall as singles winners. Muse and Hall also delivered a win at No. 2 doubles.
“What an amazing team,” Davis said. “This is the best team I never knew anything about. We only had two practices with the entire team and then we stuck them out there.
“When we lost to Owen (a 6-3 defeat on May 24), I told them that we don’t get too high after we win and not too low after we lose, that we would have another shot at them. Their number two player wasn’t here and that hurt them, but would they have beaten us if she was here? I don’t know.”
Griffin topped Owen’s Anna Sobel, 10-5. Muse and Hall had fairly easy wins at No. 2 and No. 3, with Muse winning 10-2 and Hall finishing an unbeaten season with a 10-4 win.
With Waldman leading Mundy, that turned all eyes to the No. 6 match, where Akers trailed early before storming back.
“Belen just pulled off an amazing stunt,” Davis said. “She turned it around and came back. Then she was down 11-10 and 30-love, I believe, and tied it at 11-all and won the tiebreaker.”
Polk County will now turn its focus to the WHC tourney, set for Tuesday afternoon on the Wolverines’ courts. That will cap a whirlwind season that lasted just three weeks for the Wolverines, but still provided some more hardware for the trophy case at the end.
“The girls have just shown crazy improvement in three weeks,” Davis said. “I can’t imagine what they would have been like if we had gotten to play six or eight non-conference matches.
“What a crazy, good team. What a good day.”
1. Julia Griffin (PC) d. Anna Solbol 10-5; 2. Sara Muse (PC) d. Amara Hollifield 10-2; 3. Kristen Hall (PC) d. Frances Holladay 10-4; 4. Ella Waldman (PC) d. Bailey Mundy 10-4; 5. Lisa Constable (O) d. Cameron Ward 10-3; 6. Belen Akers (PC) d. Kate Wilson 11-10 (7-4).
1. Sobel-Hollifield (O) d. Griffin-Waldman 7-6 (7-3); 2. Muse-Hall (PC) d. Holladay-Wilson 6-2; 3. Mundy-Constable (O) d. Ward-Akers 7-5.