The Smyrna girls’ tennis squad has gotten off to a nice start, winning six of their first seven matchups entering play Wednesday afternoon.
However, awaiting them was a familiar nemesis, powerhouse Caesar Rodney. Recently, the Lady Eagles have had no answer for the Riders and unfortunately Wednesday was no different as Smyrna fell to CR for the second time this season by a 5-0 margin.
CR Freshmen Halle Parker continued her strong freshmen campaign with a 6-0, 6-0 victory over Smyrna’s Morgan Brady at 1st Singles. Senior Sloan Barton was victorious at 2nd Singles Wednesday, topping Morgan Popovich 6-1, 6-2, and sophomore Hannah Morris got past Mackenzie Thompson 6-0, 6-1 rounding out singles play.
The 1st Doubles duo of senior Caroline Bennett and freshmen Caroline Pangle stayed undefeated as a team for CR this year winning their sixth matchup as a team over Smyrna’s Leah Blair and Gretchen Farrow, 6-1, 6-0.
Smyrna’s combo of Jacey Young and Payton Zopler gave CR’s Jessica Ament and Clare Mangubat a nice run in their previous meeting this season falling 6-1, 7-5. While Young and Zopler were once again able to provide a challenge, they came up short again falling 6-1, 6-3 on Wednesday.
Now, nearly halfway through the regular season schedule the Lady Riders have dominated the competition winning all seven of their matchups this season 5-0 including sweeping Smyrna on Wednesday. Also, for the time being CR stands atop the entire state trailed closely by Middletown and St. Thomas More who both hold 6-0 records.
While Smyrna’s struggles against CR continue, the Lady Eagles have used the losses as learning experiences.
“It’s always good to play stronger teams,” said Smyrna head coach Courtney Markiewicz. “We truly find out what we need to work on and where our weaknesses are. We never give up and fight for every point no matter the score.”
And aside from their two matchups with Caesar Rodney, the Lady Eagles are undefeated this season sitting at 5-2. Also, Marckiewicz believes the team has already realized the expectations set for the team before the season started.
“They have definitely surpassed my expectations,” said Marckiewicz. “Katherine Clark (1st Singles) has improved a lot from last year and it is showing. Morgan Popovich (2nd Singles) and Mackenzie Thompson (3rd Singles) have made the change from double to singles a lot smoother than I expected.”
“Jessica Wattay and Leah Blair (1st Doubles) are improving their communication and working well together,” Marckiewicz continued. “Jacey Young and Payton Zolper (2nd Doubles) are playing great and keep surprising me with their match play. All the girls should continue to have a good season and fare well in the conference tournament.”