The Oglethorpe women's tennis team got out to a big lead in doubles and held on in singles play Saturday morning at the Howell Courts, persevering for a 5-4 victory over the visiting Centre Colonels in their final match of the regular season. The win improved the Stormy Petrels to 10-6 overall and 4-2 in SAA play.
The Petrels got off to an outstanding start in the doubles portion of the competition, sweeping the Colonels to take a 3-0 lead. Senior Caroline Johnson and sophomore Hannah Dattilo played an outstanding match at No. 1, making short work of their opponents, 8-2. Freshman Elizabeth Bielicki suffered an injury in warmups at the No. 3 position, but junior Charlotte Disley filled in nicely and teamed up with sophomore Taylor Cranford for an 8-6 win. Junior Shannon Cruz and senior Halley Sickling defeated their opponents 8-5 at No. 2.
Heading to singles play, the Petrels only needed two victories to clinch the match. However, Centre got off to an outstanding start in singles, winning four matches in a row to build a 4-3 lead and pull to within a single match of clinching the day. A couple of matches went to third sets, and those proved decisive.
At No. 2, Dattilo went up a set with a 6-0 blitz in the opening frame and had four match points in the second, but her opponent came back to force a second-set tiebreak and swept it, forcing the third set. Dattilo came up big in the final frame, though, coming back after going down a break to win 6-4 and tie the dual match, 4-4.
In the No. 5 match, junior Delaney Abood won the first set 6-3, but dropped the second by the same margin, setting up a decisive third set. Abood led 5-4 and attained a match point, but her opponent fought off the threat and tied the set, 5-5. Abood won the next two games, though, taking the set 7-5 and allowing the Petrels to take the match by the closest of margins.
"I knew Centre was going to be a very tough match," said Oglethorpe head coach Peter Howell. "We would have to do very well in the doubles, as their singles lineup is quite strong. Hannah was terrific in coming back in the third set and giving us our fourth point. Delaney overcame not closing out the match at 5-4 in the third to storm back and clinch it for us. It was a total team victory!"
With Sunday's match against Sewanee canceled due to rain, the Petrels will now get set for their first round matchup in the SAA Tournament. That will take place on Friday in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, where the entire three-day tournament will be held.