Several Maryville tennis players gained valuable experience going through close matches but on most courts Friday afternoon, the final winning points went to visiting Rhea County.
Maryville lost its home opener with the Eagles (4-1) taking a 7-2 win over the boys and an 8-1 victory over the Lady Rebels.
“We lost a lot of close matches, especially on the girls side,” Maryville coach Christian Burns told The Daily Times.
Both Maryville teams are now 1-1.
Burns mentioned that two of the top six Lady Rebels were out attending other school activities, making a possible win over the undefeated Lady Eagles (5-0) even tougher.
The only point for the girls came from Faith Kirby, moved up from the junior varsity, who claimed a commanding 8-1 win on the sixth court.
Another potential point fell with Payton Murray losing a 9-8 decision on court four. The Maryville senior and Lady Eagles’ MaleeKate Ballard held their serves in the final games, but Murray struggled with three double faults in the tiebreaker, including Ballard’s winning point at 7-3.
“I played a lot better than I did in my last match, even though there were still a lot of stupid mistakes that I have got to work on,” Murray said, “But I had fun in the match. I definitely have to work on the serves, because those were some easy give-away points that you don’t like to give up at all.”
Angelique Beswick lost another of the close matches on court three, falling 9-7 to Hannah Parker after being one point away from going up 8-7. Double faults figured heavily into the loss.
The Lady Rebels were swept in the three doubles matches, and avoided the shutout thanks to Kirby’s 8-1 win over Claire Clabough.
“I’m very proud of (Kirby) for stepping up and winning 8-1,” Burns said. “She’s one of our junior varsity girls that had to fill in.”
Burns said the boys are still trying to find their identity.
“The bottom part of our lineup is younger, but we had some really competitive close matches,” Burns said.
Those close margins included a 9-7 loss by Andre Miller to Bradley Clark in the day’s final match.
The two Maryville wins came in the third slot, with Eli Paszek grinding out an 8-5 win over Brody Murphy, and junior Luke Keller defeating Eagle Coby Crump 8-6.
“It was really a back-and-forth, holding serve match until I was down 4-5, and then I was able to run off four in a row,” Paszek said.
Paszek said he prefers longer points during which he can wear down an opponent as opposed to quick points.
“I stayed in it mentally,” Paszek said. “I was able to win the war of attrition and keep it going. I put together long points and was able to win on my own terms. Keeping a point going and outlasting the opponent has been my style for a long time.”
Miller lost his singles match 9-7 and fell just short in the closest doubles match of the afternoon. Partnering with Jude Ellison, the Maryville duo fell 8-6 on the third doubles court to Garrett Walker and Crump.
Maryville begins District 4-AAA action next Wednesday hosting Hardin Valley.