The Oglethorpe women's tennis team came through with a gigantic 5-4 victory over the regionally ranked Millsaps Majors Friday afternoon at the Downing Howell Courts, a win that improved the Stormy Petrels to 4-2 in SAA play on the season, moving them into third place by themselves with a single match to go in the regular season and securing their best-ever SAA finish. The victory also improved Oglethorpe to 11-5 on the season overall.
With the match tied at 3-3, the match between the Petrels, ranked 19th in the Atlantic South, and Millsaps, ranked 15th, came down to the Nos. 4, 5 and 6 singles matches. Freshman Taylor Cranford participated in the No. 4 match, and had to fight through fatigue and cramping to secure her victory. After taking the first set 6-3, Cranford pulled out to a 5-3 advantage in the second set. She fought through it and won the match 6-3, 6-4, giving Oglethorpe a 4-3 lead.
In the No. 5 match, Wilcox was locked in a tight one with her opponent. She won the opening set 6-3, but fell 6-2 in the second to set up a decisive third set. In that set, her opponent began to severely cramp as Wilcox began to wear her opponent down, and Wilcox took a 4-3 lead. In the middle of the next game, Wilcox's opponent had to retire from the match, securing the victory on the day for the Petrels.
Sophomore Delaney Abood was also in a 3-set match at No. 6 at the same time. She fell behind with a 6-2 defeat in the first set, but came storming back in the second set with a 6-1 victory. She eventually fell 6-3 in the third set, but the Petrels had already clinched the dual match.
The Petrels got off to an outstanding start in the doubles part of the competition earlier in the day. Sophomore Shannon Cruz and Cranford took down their opponent 8-3 at the No. 2 position. At No. 3 doubles, Wilcox and junior Halley Sickling engaged in a hard-fought battle and came out on top 8-6. The top-line doubles team of junior Caroline Johnson and freshman Hannah Dattilo fell 8-5 to a regionally-ranked doubles pairing, making the score 2-1 headed to the singles portion of the proceedings.
Elsewhere in singles, Cruz won 6-3, 6-3 at No. 3. Meanwhile, Johnson fell 6-1, 6-1 in the top-line singles match while Dattilo lost 7-5, 6-4 at No. 2.
"I'm incredibly proud of this team!" said Oglethorpe head coach Peter Howell. "This is an outstanding victory against a very good team. We had our team leaders Ingrid Wilcox, Caroline Johnson and Halley Sickling providing leadership and support all afternoon, and Wilcox did an outstanding job of in her match, as did Taylor Cranford of toughing out fatigue and injury issues. This was just an outstanding victory all the way around!"
The Petrels will now welcome Birmingham-Southern to the Downing Howell Courts Saturday at 1 p.m. in their final match of the regular season. The Petrels will honor the career of Wilcox during Senior Day festivities before taking on the Panthers. The Petrels have assured themselves of no worse than a third-place tie in the league standings going into that match, and they'll hold no worse then the No. 5 seed headed into next weekend's SAA Tournament.