Monday night, Monticello tennis found themselves exactly where they wanted to be. After dropping two straight conference matches to fall to 3-2 midway through the season, they had battled back to earn a shot at the conference title.
The 5-2 Magic played host to the 6-1 STMA Knights, with first place in the conference on the line. The Magic neared jubilation, picking up three of the needed four victories, while sending the fourth into a third set.
But in the end, they came up just short, falling 4-3 to the Knights, the identical score by which the Magic beat them just a couple of weeks prior.
“We had an opportunity to win the conference,” said Coach Jeff Bordwell. “That’s all you can ask for.”
The opportunity became more within reach as the matches wore on. Monticello got wins from Grace Sawatzke at three singles and from Christine Lui and Myranda Anderson at two doubles.
At that point, the Magic led two other matches. One would go on to win – Sidney Antony and Maria Becker at three doubles – while the other would go on to lose, as the Magic came up just short of a tie for first.
But, Monticello wasn’t about to let the missed opportunity derail all of the positive momentum they had built with their five match winning streak prior to a couple of tough recent losses.
“We’re not excited about losing,” said Bordwell. “But the key thing will be to see how we bounce back.”
In order to bounce back, Monticello will keep looking for the consistency that was lacking early in the season, but evident during their midseason run.
One of the spots where the Magic have showed better form is in doubles, where all three teams have had bright spots, while two and three doubles have been especially tough to beat.
“I think the doubles teams have started to gel,” said Bordwell. “They know what’s happening, they know what each girl is doing. I think that really helps.”
On the singles side, the Magic have gotten continued strong play from Grace Sawatzke, who remains undefeated in conference at three singles, as well as Brooke Volpone, who Bordwell says has started taking advantage of her skill set.
“She has all the shots in the book,” he said. “Now she moves her opponent around, and she dictates the play.”
Monticello has also seen consistent play and occasional brilliance from their top singles player, Alex Revenig, as she knocked off the top player in the conference (from Buffalo) just last week. Add eighth grader Taylor Arthur in at four singles, and the Magic don’t have much for weak spots that teams can take advantage of.
With just a couple of conference matches left, and sections starting up to begin October, the Magic hope they are the ones taking advantage of other teams.
“If we all contribute at the same time, then we can really have some success,” said Bordwell.
The Magic bounced back Tuesday afternoon to squeak by Rogers, 4-3. All four singles players earned victories to help keep the Magic in second place in the Mississippi 8.