Girls tennis plays in marathon match
Gut-wrenching. Grueling. Disappointing.
Those words were used to describe Parkland’s girls tennis match against Southern Lehigh Saturday in temperatures approaching 90 degrees. In all, the match took well over four hours to complete thanks to a couple of late singles matches that both went Parkland’s way. When all was said and done, the Lady Spartans had pulled out a 4-3 win over the Trojans
At various points, both teams seemed to have momentum in just about every match and in the match overall. Parkland’s Maanasi Gothoskar and Aditi Pallod picked up a win in number-three doubles, but Southern Lehigh took wins in two and four-doubles and in number-one singles to hold a 3-1 lead.
Parkland then needed wins in the remaining two doubles matches to send the match to a tie-breaker between the two teams number-one doubles tandems.
In No. 3 singles, Jessica Tseo split the first two sets with Southern Lehigh’s Keelin McLoughlin, winning the opener 6-4 and losing the second set 4-6. The two battled through a third set with Tseo pulling out another 6-4 win, meaning that it was all going to come down to the No. 2 singles match which was still going on.
“You can’t let it get to your head,” said Tseo of winning a big match for her team. “I think it’s just not to think about the points or where you’re at in the game, you just have to think about how you’re playing at that moment.”
Coach Michael Hingston smiled broadly when he saw how Tseo battled to win her match, not only because it kept his team’s hopes alive, but because he’s seen Tseo develop during the season and believes she can build on the win.
“She is such a great kid and she was such a big part of our team today,” he said. “I think her win today was a breakthrough type win for her and it made my heart sing to see her win that match.”
In No. 2 singles, Joanna Wu and Michelle Li also split the first two sets, with Li beating Parkland’s Wu 6-2 in the opening set.
Wu rallied to win the second set 7-5 and fell behind 5-2 in the third set that she needed to win to send the match to a tie-breaker game. Like Tseo had done, Wu rallied and went on to take the third set 7-6, with an 8-6 tie-breaker to decide the match.
The bad news for Wu – and for Li – was that they then had to pair up with a teammate to play the number-one doubles match as a tiebreaker.
Wu and Murong Yao took the court for Parkland, while Li was matched with Danielle Barnes. Yao and Barnes had battled in number-one singles, but had an extended break before having to play doubles.
Playing an eight-game pro set, the two teams tied 8-8. In the tie-breaker, Southern Lehigh jumped out to a 6-2 lead and seemed to have the match wrapped up, but Wu was again part of a comeback when they rallied to tie the match. Barns and Li then rallied and took the tiebreaker 9-7 to get a win for Southern Lehigh.
“I just thought that I could do it and just thought that if I played my best that I could beat her, so I just played my best,” said Wu of battling from behind to win the match.
“She battled like a champion and it’s a lot to ask of a kid to go back and repeat at doubles,” said Hingston. “She’s got to be exhausted. For a sophomore like that to show that much moxie is pretty impressive. So we’re disappointed that we didn’t pull this one out, but there are a lot of positives to take from it, so I certainly don’t want the kids feeling bad.”
For her part, Wu wasn’t really bothered by having to go back out for the doubles match even though she had been in the searing heat for much of the day. Her and Yao strategized during the break and Wu caught her second wind to go into the match.
“I just tried my best, because I thought why not? It’s just another game,” said Wu of having to play doubles.
Parkland is now 10-3 in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference and 10-4 overall. Up next for Parkland is the EPC Tournament on Thursday and Friday.