A first step. A very, very good first step.
Polk County’s girls tennis team recognized that Tuesday’s 6-3 victory over Owen represented just the beginning of its push to win a third straight Western Highlands Conference championship.
But for a team that lost two of its top four players from a year ago, defeating a Warhorse squad that is always in the mix for the WHC title offered proof that another conference banner is within reach.
“After coming off two good years of pretty strong teams like we had, we sort of entered this year with a lot of unknowns,” said Polk head coach Richard Davis. “We had a change at No. 1, a change at No. 2, some other new faces.
“I’m extremely proud of their growth. We haven’t won anything yet. We still have to see Avery and Mountain Heritage, but this is a good first step.”
The new faces at 1 and 2 are team veterans Tana Harris and Julia Griffin, and both delivered big wins Tuesday, with Harris posting a 10-1 victory and Griffin winning 10-0.
Ava Marino, at No. 4, also posted a 10-0 win, and Sara Muse delivered a key singles point at No. 3. Muse took an early lead, only to see Owen’s Mattie Lehman rally to tighten the match. Up 6-5, Muse was able to break Lehman’s serve, then held serve to take an 8-5 lead and then won the final two games of the match.
“I thought Tana Harris played the best match she’s ever played today,” Davis said. “Julia Griffin played smart, very smart. Sara Muse is just a fighter. She’s going to fight the whole match. Ava Marino just takes care of business.
“Our 3 doubles (Madi Pruette and Victoria Bolling) have played well today. I’m just extremely proud of all of them.”
The Wolverines (4-1, 1-0) are on the road Wednesday at 2A power Hendersonville before returning home Thursday to host Avery.
“We work really hard in practice,” Davis said. “We hit a lot of tennis balls and talk a lot of strategy. Maybe it’s all coming together.
“But we haven’t won anything yet. This is a great win, but we’ve got five more to go. We’ll see these guys again, and we had some close matches today that could go the other way next time.”
1. Tana Harris (PC) d. Anna Sobol 10-1; 2. Julia Griffin (PC) d. Summer Thoma 10-0; 3. Sara Muse (PC) d. Mattie Lehman 10-5; 4. Ava Marino (PC) d. Bailey Munday 10-0; 5. Amara Hollifield (O) d. Madi Pruette 10-1; 6. Frances Holladay (O) d. Victoria Bolling 10-2.
1. Harris-Griffin (PC) d. Sobol-Thoma 8-3; 2. Muse-Marino (PC) d. Lehman-Hollifield 8-4; 3. Munday-Holladay (O) d. Pruette-Bolling 8-4.