The result was inescapable. The fate of Clinton doubles partners Tessa Bartlett and Katherine Keith wasn’t up for debate.
Like clockwork, Kathleen Matz and Alyssa Schoen trudged out in the No. 3 Smith-Cotton doubles spot on Thursday at the Liberty Park tennis courts. And like clockwork, they walked away winners.
The upperclassman duo improved to 7-0 on the season with an 8-2 victory over Bartlett and Keith, but their success was overshadowed by Smith-Cotton’s 5-4 loss to the Lady Cardinals (3-2, 2-2 WCC).
“The (four) and the six are definitely coming through for us,” Smith-Cotton coach Heather Clancy said. “They’ve been the determining factor in a lot of matches.”
Asked about their success, Schoen said it was all about being accurate and “communicating well.”
Both also won their singles matches. Matz, playing in the four spot, defeated Adriane Dehn 8-5 and Schoen, the senior anchor at No. 6, won 8-2. And fittingly, with the impetus behind their doubles success being cohesion, both players improved to 6-1 in singles play.
While Schoen’s win against Keith came as no surprise, she did beat her handily earlier in the year, Matz’s victory was a tale of redemption. The junior lost 8-5 earlier in the year to Dehn, but she dedicated herself to improving and the hard work paid off on Thursday.
“I just kept practicing and working hard and knew if I placed it well, I could beat her,” Matz said. “I’m really excited. It feels great.”
But no matter how many winners, aces and picture-perfect volleys and groundstrokes Matz and Schoen struck, it just wasn’t enough to overcome the struggles of their teammates.
The Lady Tigers (4-3, 2-3), who got the other win in an Ashlee Slack 8-4 victory over Caitlin Steward, lost their top three singles spots and top two doubles spots.
The defeat that hurt the most, though, was from Taylor Smith and Slack, who had match point on Ariel Hunt and Steward while leading 7-4.
But the duo faltered down the stretch, dropping their final five games in a 9-7 loss.
“I mean they were up 7-4 and they lost it,” Clancy said. “It was tough.”
The 5-4 down-to-the-wire losses has become a theme for the Lady Tigers, who have lost by the same margin in all three defeats.
“We should be 7-0,” Clancy said.
Smith-Cotton at Camdenton
4:30 p.m. Monday