Not only was their game on the line when Tiffany Cain and Mariayna Lovelace took the court for their third set against the Lake Forest seniors Katherine Mello and Olivia Hobbs on Monday, April 25, but so was the match, and potentially, so were the team’s Henlopen South title hopes.
But despite the pressure, the first doubles duo delivered, taking it 6-3 and sealing the win for the Indian River High School girls’ tennis team that improved them to 3-4 overall on the season and 2-1 in the division.
“Definitely some MVPs,” said head coach Stefanie Riddle of the clutch performance. “I expected no less, because they keep it together. They pump each other up. They don’t worry about the crowd — they focus, and that’s all they had to do today was focus, and they came back and won.”
While Cain, a senior, and Lovelace, a junior, took the spotlight in their match, they couldn’t have gotten there if it weren’t for wins from senior Kayla Huebner at second singles and freshman Alexa Fitz at third singles.
Huebner took games against Lake’s Kylie Chillas, 6-1, 6-3, while Fitz defeated Stephanie Collins, 6-1, 6-3, after getting edged by the senior in three sets during their previous meeting, on March 22.
“I’m used to it now. It’s definitely gotten a lot easier as the season has gone on,” Fitz said of the late-game pressure. “You just have to breathe and just relax and tell yourself that you can win. I always ask myself, ‘How bad do you want this?’”
“She has heart,” Riddle said of the freshman. “She plays with all her heart and focus and she was gonna give [Collins] a fight.”
The Indians had previously lost 4-1 in their first matchup of the season against the Spartans, making their 3-2 victory all the more impressive as they get ready to start facing other division opponents for the second time.
“I feel like, as a team, we’ve definitely stepped it up since the beginning of the year. Through the practices and through their hard work, they’ve really come together as a team,” said Riddle. “The girls thrive on their positive attitude and making sure that they know they can play the sport. The confidence level has been through the roof.”
The Indians were looking to further their South title hopes when they took on Milford (3-5) on Wednesday, April 28, (after Coastal Point press time). They’ll head to Sussex Central (2-9) on Monday, May 2, before hosting Seaford (1-7) on Tuesday, May 3. Those matches are set for 4 p.m.
1st Singles: Zuzana Ivanova (Lake) def. Hannah Shultie (IR) 6-1, 6-1
2nd Singles: Kayla Huebner (IR) def. Kylie Chillas (Lake) 6-1, 6-3
3rd Singles: Alexa Fitz (IR) def. Stephanie Collins (Lake) 6-1, 6-3
1st Doubles: Lovelace/Cain (IR) def. Mello/Hobbs (Lake) 4-6, 6-3, 6-3
2nd Doubles: Nguyen/Brubaker (Lake) def. Wayland/Galbreath 6-3, 6-0