As the sun began to set behind Mingus Mountain on April 10, the Mingus Union girls' tennis team was locked in a close battle Coconino High School, tied at four.
The final three matches all went to tie breakers, adding a level of excitement to the air for teammates and fans. Seniors Bethany Hickey, Lauren Nevitt and Jordan Scalf had split their opening sets against their Panther opponents and as the ball crossed the net for the final time in the first two tie breakers, Nevitt and Hickey fell to Coconino.
The two Mingus losses knotted the team scores and the Marauders all traveled down to the last court to watch and cheer on Scalf. As the senior played through her 10-point tiebreaker, she knew that her match would be one of the deciding matches, but did not realize that it was the deciding match.
"Mrs. Meyer told me that either mine or Nev's (Lauren Nevitt) match would have to win for the team to win," Scalf said. "... [the pressure] kind of drives me. I kind of like the added push to play my hardest."
The pressure was nothing new to Scalf, who had been in the situation before and she rose to the challenge. She pulled out the 10-7 win, giving her team the win and snapping a two game skid against Prescott High School and Flagstaff High School.
"It was a moral booster," said head coach Andrea Meyer. "It proved to the girls that if they made some adjustments in the way that they thought and the way that they approached adverse situations, and if they made some changes in their strokes that we've been working on for a couple weeks, then they could have good results."
The win was a sort of redemption for Scalf, who dropped her doubles match with partner Nevitt 8-6 to the Panthers Emily Button and Jordan Holland. In other doubles play, Hickey and Carol Curran came through on top 8-5 over the Panthers Kendal Hutchings and Kailie Baker. Hope Heath and Jenny Kohler gave Mingus the advantage going into singles play with their 8-5 win over Chelsea Corey and Martha Velasco of Coconino.
"It was pretty intense," Scalf said. "It was good and competitive on both sides. We rallied really well."
Heath was one of the first Marauders off the court, winning her match against Button in straight sets, 6-4, 6-0. Kohler and Curran followed suit playing matches that ended in straight sets, but Curran was unable to get any rhythm going in her offense and dropped her match 6-3, 6-1. Kohler, who was filling in for Courtney Warner, pulled out her win 8-6, 6-2.
Nevitt grabbed her opening singles set 6-2, but dropped the second 6-4 and lost the overtime set 10-7. Hickey dropped her first set 6-2 but found her shots in the second set and responded with a 6-2 win of her own. Hickey put up a valiant effort against Hutchings and kept t close, but eventually the Panther got the two-point advantage and won the final set 11-9, setting up Scalf's go-ahead win on court 6.
"It came down to three tiebreakers in the end and in Bethany's case, she won the first set handily, the other girl improved her game and that tie breaker could have gone either way ... she played gutsy points and so did Lauren [in her loss]... that was a matter of just having the ability to return the ball again because she had to out-wait the other girl."
After hosting the Panthers, the Marauders traveled to Flagstaff the following day to makeup a canceled match against Coconino. The Panthers got their revenge as they had two players returning to the lineup and won 6-3. Hickey, Curran and Nevitt were able to redeem them from the previous day, but they were the lone Marauders to win their matches. Unlike the first meeting, Hickey's match was the lone competition to go into extra sets and the senior got the 10-7 win following a first set win, 6-4, and a second set loss, 6-2.
The split matches moves the girls' season record to 3-5 overall and 1-1 in Division-II, Section 3. They return to the courts on April 14 when the girls venture to Kingman for another section match. On April 17 they host Flagstaff at 3:30 p.m.