Lady Indians make a racquet against Dover
The Lady Indians held together for a marathon match this past Tuesday, April 24, and, after more than three hours, they pulled out a 3-2 win over visiting Dover, improving their season record to 7-3.
Indian River – which had given up just its third loss of the season only a day before, to Smyrna – turned things around against the Lady Senators of Dover, after trailing in games 2-1.
“We were losing, two-games-to-one, as our second- and third-singles matches were competing,” said first-year Indian River head coach Conor McMullen. “Both matches went into a third set, and they came out with wins to secure the win. It was really close, and it made the match really exciting.”
Dover’s Sarah Lichford at first-singles, and Sage Cole and Emma Patterson at first-doubles, won their matches to put the Lady Senators ahead, while Ashlyn Calhoun and Alyssa McManus came out on top for the Lady Indians at second-doubles.
Kitty Cole at second-singles and Delaney McMullen at third-singles overcame their early deficits to win in the third and final set of their matches in dramatic fashion. Kitty Cole evened her second-singles games at 1-1 with a 7-4 tiebreaker in the second set against Dover’s Shannon Biddle, before finishing her off, 7-5 in the third and final set.
After winning her first set 7-5, then dropping her second, 6-3, third-singles player Delaney McMullen sealed the victory for the Lady Indians as she edged Victoria Lucas, 10-8, in the final set, with a 10-point tiebreaker to punctuate it all.
“[Tuesday] was big for our team,” McMullen noted. “I think it showed them that they can win close matches and play with the top teams in the state. I’m pretty proud of them. Some of the girls had just lost their games and were walking off the courts, but they went right over to cheer on their teammates still playing. That says a lot about their sportsmanship.”
The loss gave Dover their third consecutive defeat, and the Lady Indians collected their fourth win in their last five matches. With the victory, the Lady Indians are sitting nicely in the Henlopen Conference standings and have yet to lose in the Southern Henlopen Division. With three of their last four games of the season against division foes, however, McMullen said he understands that there’s no time to let up.
“We’re on top of the South right now,” he said. “We’re at the homestretch for the division. I think coming out on a Monday, playing a tough team and not having our first-doubles team really made it tough for the girls, but the Dover game can be a really good platform for ending the season.”
Following Tuesday’s win, McMullen said he hoped that the team’s confidence continues through the last few weeks of the schedule.
“It comes down to keeping the team from getting frustrated,” he said. “They need to believe in themselves. They already know they have the ability to do it. Sometimes, it just takes a little encouragement to light a fire that gets them going.”
Of the Lady Indians’ losses – to Smyrna, St. Thomas More and defending Delaware state champions Caesar Rodney – none have been a blowout, he noted.
“Even with that Smyrna match,” said McMullen, “it could have gone 3-2, us. It was a back-and-forth match. The girls are finding more and more ways to stay positive and keep that optimism up. If they can do that, we can win out the rest of this season.”
In mid-May, the Lady Indians will play host to the Henlopen Conference championships at Sea Colony, and McMullen said he is eagerly awaiting the draws.
“We should have some solid seeds going into that tournament. Hopefully, our momentum will carry us in there.”