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Comet girls tennis grabs significant road win Friday

South Boston News
Kassidy Irby concentrates on the ball during Thursday’s Comet girl’s tennis match. (David Conner II photo) / March 19, 2018
The Halifax County High School girls tennis team earned a significant road win Friday. HCHS won 6-3 over the Lady Statesmen. It was the first road win at R-H since Donna Hudson has been the coach.

“Both teams played competitive tennis, and it a real show. We played 8 game pro sets, and almost every set was a battle. On any court, the win could have gone either way,” said Hudson.

There was just a narrow four-game difference in the overall scoring, 56-52. “Randolph only has four courts, so we started out with Kassidy Irby, Kendall Foushee, Dejah Britton and Ashley Collins playing their 1-4 singles. Of the three, Kendall is the only one who took a win. Kassidy, at 1, struggled with unforced errors and with getting her first serve in. She stayed in the game, but could never get control. She lost 3-8 to a very strong, well-trained opponent. At 3 and 4, Dejah and Ashley both got behind early, rallied to get within striking distance, but couldn’t dig themselves out of the holes they started in,” said Hudson.

“Despite good effort, we lost 5-8 on both courts. Our only win in that first group was Kendall at 2, who used her head to keep her opponent running after balls, and took her set 8-2. Kendall played well, keeping control of the game with smart placement and good execution,” said Hudson.

“When 5 and 6 singles started, we were down 1-3. Yasmine Ferrell and Rose Ruotolo-Sarnataro were facing strong opponents, but came through in their challenges. Yasmine at 5 was down 3-0, but stayed focused and came back, game by game, to an 8-5 win.

“She frustrated her opponent with consistent placement on the edges of the court, and then took advantage of that frustration to get the win. Yasmine’s calm focus is a good advantage for her.

“On 6, Rose was anything but calm. A much younger player, Rose is stepping out of her comfort zone as she makes her way into competition. She quickly handed over 3 games before getting a win in this set. She had to be really concentrate to overcome those nerves, but she did. Her strength is consistent placement, and once she got back into her strengths, she started to win, and then stayed in the match to win 8-5. With 8-5 wins from both Yasmine and Rose, we came out of singles tied at 3-3,” said Hudson.

“Kassidy and Kendall played 1 doubles, and went into their games determined to redeem us from Kassidy’s loss to their 1. They were matched against RH’s 1 and 3 players, which proved to be not enough to take our 1 and 2. Kassidy and Kendall are a formidable combination, and they were hit aggressively to control their match. They won this one 8-5, in a game that was hard and fast,” said Hudson.

“Doubles 2 and 3 started after all others had finished, and we needed one of those to get a win. At 2 we played Dejah Britton and Yasmine Ferrell against the 2 and 4 of RH. At 3 we played Ashley Collins and Ashley Day against the 5 and 6 seeds. Both sets went game by game, a win then a loss, a win then a loss. These were great matches to watch.

“Yasmine and Dejah worked extremely well together, communicating, moving, and never giving up. They won 8-6 in a close, well-played game. Ashley and Ashley also executed exactly what they needed to do to win their set 8-5. Day played a great, aggressive net game, and took care of the team from the baseline as well. Collins struggled a little with consistency in returns, but came through with strong angled winners when we needed them. “We are happy that the girls are gaining confidence, and are really proud of this win. We always learn from the Randolph girls. They are well coached and impressive,” said Hudson.

On Thursday, the girls blanked Prince Edward County.

“We got off to a good start with a strong win against PE in our opening game. It’s always hard to tell what Prince Edward will bring, but we were prepared to just focus, do our best, and have fun playing tennis. We had to battle some pretty strong winds for most of the afternoon, but the girls learned to adjust according to the side of the court they were on and they performed well,” said Hudson.

“Kassidy Irby played #1 singles, against a very athletic returning player from PE. We remembered Grace Rust from last year’s match, where Grace won at #2 against us. Kassidy got off to an aggressive start, taking the first set 6-3. Rust fine-tuned a few things, and was a tougher opponent in the second set, winning it 5-7. That put these two into a tie-breaker for the match. Both girls played focused, aggressive tennis in a nail-biter, but Kassidy came out the winner at 9-7. This was a good prep for Kassidy as we go into a two game series against Randolph Henry, where she is likely to again see a very strong opponent,” said Hudson.

“Courts 2 - 6 were a bit less challenging, and we took wins all the way through. Kendall Foushee dominated on Court 2, winning 6-0 6-0. Dejah Britton on Court 3 also had a pretty easy time of her match, winning 6-1 6-1,” said Hudson.

“Ashley Collins had a much better game than she had in our scrimmage, taking her win 6-1, 6-4. Ashley did a good job of hanging on to the lead when her opponent made a run, and closed out nicely.

“On Court 5, Yasmine Ferrell was untouchable, winning easily 6-0 6-0. At 6, Rose Ruotolo-Sartanaro, a freshman, made her high school debut in the starting line-up, and took home a win for us. Her first set was an easy one for her, however her opponent came back in the second set to force Rose to learn to play hard and stay focused to finish the set with a win. Her scores were 6-1, 7-5.

“Knowing that we are facing two tough matches Friday and Monday, we left our starting players in for doubles to give them playing time together as partners. We had great games on Court 1, where Kassidy and Kendall were against PE’s 1 and 4. Those two played well together, offsetting each other and using good strategies. The first set went to 7-5, with Halifax having to play very determined tennis to pull off the win. The second set was a battle as well, with Halifax leading most of the set, but with PE making a great effort to come back and tie the set 6-6. The Tie Breaker went to Halifax though, in a 7-1 win,” said Hudson.

“Two and three doubles saw easier matches. We paired Dejah Britton with Yasmine Ferrell at #2 dbles, and they dominated 6-1 6-0 for the win. At #3 dbls we partnered the Ashleys - Collins and Day, and they also took the win 6-1, 6-3. All four of these girls focused on improving their percentage of alley shots in order to get ready for tougher opponents. We have several things targeted to work with the girls on when we get back to a practice court, but that won’t be until after we play Friday and Monday, both times against a tough Randolph Henry team. We hope to play strong against them and then get ready for District matches coming up,” said Hudson.

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