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Marley Green helps Spartans win in girls tennis

HUGHESVILLE — Marley Green was sitting comfortably with a three-game lead in the first set of her singles match Monday afternoon. Suddenly, the lead was just one game.

The Hughesville senior felt the pressure of the moment. But she also used the moment to take her game to another level. She’d take more risks. She’d work for winners instead of sitting back and waiting for Lewisburg’s Ayra Tufail to make mistakes.

Green carried that mentality through the final 11 games of her No. 2 singles match and helped the Spartans sweep the singles matches in a 4-1 win over the Green Dragons. Green and No. 3 singles player Maria Duff are making the adjustment from doubles teammates a year ago to now making up two-thirds of Hughesville’s singles’ lineup. In moments like the one in the first set, Green has had to learn to rely on herself. But doing just that has worked out pretty well.

“It’s a very big adjustment,” Green said. “You’re the only one on the court and you’re back and forth and you have full control. But it’s harder mentally and you need to tell yourself to get going because there’s nobody else there to tell you to pick it up.”

Green and Duff (6-0, 6-0 winner) joined No. 1 player Madison Entz (6-0, 6-4) as singles winners for the Spartans. The No. 2 doubles team of Kylie Kilgore and Hannah Wertz picked up a 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 win.

Grace Hilkert and Bridget Kinnaman picked up Lewisburg’s lone win at No. 1 doubles, 4-6, 7-6 (5), 10-6. The Spartans won for the second time after dropping their first four matches of the season to teams who have combined for fewer than five losses.

It feels like the group is beginning to come together. That, in part, is because of the comfort Green and Duff are beginning to feel in their first year as full-time singles players.

“I thought they were comfortable from Day 1,” Hughesville coach Craig Weaver said. “They made the transition in the summertime when we were working out. And their attitude has been great.”

“I needed to realize in the summer I had to be someone who stepped up because singles is a really big part of winning,” Duff said. “We can lose a match by singles, or win a match. So I knew I had to pick it up.”

Duff’s last few outings haven’t been what she had hoped for, nor was it was she expected of herself. But she finished Monday’s match quickly. While everyone else was just getting warmed up in their first sets, Duff was packing up after a straight-sets win in which she didn’t surrender a game.

“I was really beating myself up with how I was playing,” Duff said. I knew I had to change, I just wasn’t changing. So this match really set me back on my track and I know how to find my way now. I came out aggressive, I put on my big girl pants and worked hard.”

Monday’s dual with Tufail was exactly the kind of match Green loves to be involved in. She knows it’s precisely that kind of dogfight which is going to make her tough to beat when the postseason rolls around in a few weeks.

As nice at the matches where she doesn’t surrender a game are, it’s ones like Monday in which she has to raise her game to another level. She and Tufail both covered more ground than Lewis and Clark during their long rallies. Green forced herself to take more chances and go for winners instead of sitting back.

“Some matches you hit back and forth and you don’t really get anything out of it,” Green said. “But when you have to hit shots and take risks, that’s what will really help you come districts.”

“I don’t care what sport it is, you have to play better to get better,” Weaver said. “And when you play better competition, it brings the best out in you.”

Despite its losses at the top two singles spots, Lewisburg did get competitive matches from Tufail and Bekah Vance. Mia Kakavage and Katelyn Fessler for a third set at No. 2 doubles. And Hilkert and Kinnaman came back from a 4-1 deficit in the third set superset to take the Green Dragons’ lone win.

“Both doubles matches were a lot of fun to watch,” Lewisburg coach Sam Harer said. “We’re a young team. I’m trying to get them to go out there and be competitive but to also have a little fun as well.”

Hughesville 4, Lewisburg 1

SINGLES

1. Madison Entz (H) def. Bekah Vance, 6-0, 6-4; 2. Marley Green (H) def. Ayra Tufail, 6-4, 6-4; 3. Maria Duff (H) def. Sofia Waughen, 6-0, 6-0.

DOUBLES

1. Grace Hilkert/Bridget Kinnaman (L) def. Gina Budman/Taylor Hauck, 4-6, 7-6 (5), 10-6; 2. Kylie Kilgore/Hannah Wertz (H) def. Mia Kakavage/Katelyn Fessler, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.

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