CEDARVILLE - On Tuesday, the Lady Barons tennis team demonstrated improved baseline awareness in their third match of the spring, in an 8-1 defeat against non-conference opponent Cedarville University.
At. No. 1 doubles, freshman duo Madelyn Conrad and Gracie Hammel started inconsistency from the baseline, sending normally routine groundstrokes long. Good shots off both sides weren't quite enough to make the match a close one, but the pair was hitting through the ball well, an encouraging showing as the postseason approaches.
Sophomore Julia Razook and senior Claire Haddad played a No. 2 doubles competition characterized by improved consistency as the match progressed. Razook, in particular, grew more aggressive at the net after the Lady Barons found themselves down 5-3; assisted by Haddad's deep groundstrokes, the duo kept the match close down the stretch, before surrendering 8-4 to their opponents.
At No. 3 doubles, juniors Marisa Pinto and Emmy Mathias played their first doubles match of the spring together; the pair found strong serves and groundstroke consistency not enough in an 8-0 loss typified by selective shot variety and positivity.
Despite a 3-0 overall match deficit after the conclusion of doubles play, the Lady Barons kept things close through singles. At the No. 1 spot, Conrad avenged a loss earlier in the academic year to the same opponent. After going down 4-2, she took the next four games to register the 6-4 first set, behind improved footwork and service consistency. After quality shot depth contributed to a 1-0 second set lead, her opponent retired from the match.
At No. 2 singles, Hammel found backhand consistency and footwork an issue. Despite repeated groundstrokes deep into her opponent's court, double faults and the inability to break the serve kept her from a closer match. She lost 6-1, 6-0.
Down at No. 5 singles, Mathias shook off doubles inconsistency and displayed wildly improved service returns. In her 6-1, 6-0 loss, the junior succeeded in moving her opponent from sideline to sideline.
Razook came alive too late at No. 3 singles. After losing ten straight singles games, down 4-0 in the second set, she responded with four games of her own, thanks to improved groundstroke consistency and footwork. The sophomore couldn't hang on as the set wound down, dropping it 6-4 for the match.
Team captain Haddad played a fellow senior at No. 4 singles. She started off slow against a consistent opposition, but soon rose to the level of her opponent, diversifying her shots and lengthening her rallies. In the end, her Cedarville counterpart seemed to hit the angles just a bit more consistently, and Haddad went down 6-1, 6-3.
No. 6 singles was a story of dominant serves and inconsistent groundstroke consistency for Pinto. When her approach shots fell, Pinto made sure to finish off her net opportunities, in a 6-0, 6-2 defeat.
After the match, Haddad said "I was really proud of the energy that I saw across the board. While we may not have won the match, it definitely took us a step further in preparing for the national tournament, and we saw some excellent play."
The Lady Barons next face off against non-conference opponent Grove City College on Tuesday, April 25 at 3:30 p.m.