With the score of the match knotted at 2-2, Thursday’s girls tennis match between Columbus North and Lawrence Central came down to the No. 2 singles battle.
North’s Paige Littrell and Lawrence Central’s Allison Himes were going to keep everyone nervous until the final moments.
After Litrell won the first set 6-0, Himes stormed back to take the second set 6-1.
Littrell, however, got her game back together and pulled off a clutch 6-3 win in the deciding set to give the Bull Dogs a team victory.
“Coach (Kendal Hammel) told me many times during my match to keep staying positive,” Littrell said after her grueling win. “At times, I got real negative whenever I made mistakes and it showed.
“So coach said that I should not let (Himes) get into my head and to stay focused. He said to finish the job.”
Hammel was proud Littrell was able to finish the job.
“Sometimes Paige’s only enemy out there on the court is herself,” Hammel said. “When she gets mad at herself, she starts to question her shots. She gets choppy and doesn’t hit the ball all the way through.
“When she got her confidence back in the third set, she started hitting her shots and landing aces on her serve. She stepped it up and did a fantastic job.”
At No. 1 singles, North freshman Aubrey Smith had the lead in both sets but became frustrated in both sets, eventually dropping a 7-5, 6-4 decision to Lawrence Central’s Veronica Clark.
“(Clark) is a really smart player,” Hammel said. “Aubrey just needs to learn to stay patient and not go for that big shot so much. Her opponent threw a lot of stuff at her and made her work for every point in that match.”
North’s Meagan Olibo was defeated at No. 3 singles by Lawrence Central’s Peyton Carroll 6-0, 6-2.
But Sara Vanderkolk and Sydney Anderson gave the Bull Dogs a 7-6 (4), 6-2 victory at No. 1 doubles against Carley Canich and Alex Richardson of Lawrence Central. The Bull Dogs also scored another victory at No. 2 doubles when Alex Friend and Brooke Richardson picked up a 6-1, 6-2 win against Lawrence Central’s Meredith Nordmann and Lauren Hibbler.
“Our doubles teams played amazing tonight, as well,” Hammel said. “Sara and Sydney have been improving match after match and have been just getting better as the season goes on. They have been limiting their mental errors.”
“Our No. 2 doubles team did a great job tonight,” he said. “They made great serves and kept the ball in play. They established great communication tonight.”