Clyde came away victorious in what could be a defining match — even just a couple of weeks in to the season. The Fliers, winners of the 2016 Sandusky Bay Conference title last season, came away with a 4-1 win over Norwalk, which won the Northern Ohio League a year ago.
Despite the loss, Lady Trucker coach Chris Higgins was not unimpressed.
“The first conference match between the reigning SBC champ and reigning NOL champ did not disappoint,” he said. “This was a match that really could have went to either team. Unfortunately, the Truckers did not quite have enough to get the Fliers.”
Clyde’s Heidi Marshall earned the win over Megan Berry at first singles, 6-4, 6-3. Trucker Gabby Horowitz dropped 6-1, 6-1 decisions to Alayna Barrera in the second singles match. At third singles, Lizzie Ratliff went the distance with Jil Gisenblaetter, but ultimately lost 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.
Norwalk’s lone win came on the first doubles court, as Macy Miller and Jordan Gran defeated Lakotah Cagle and Madi Bannister 7-5, 6-1. Sela Berry and Mara Berry lost to Saylor Meyer and Siera Hisey 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 in a tough second doubles match.
“Megan was in a battle of two players that like to play consistently,” Higgins said. “She was defeated in two close sets. Gabby had trouble being consistent as her senior opponent took advantage of the situation. Lizzie, once again, was the last match out on the court with all eyeballs on her. It was a back and forth battle that went Clyde's way in the end. Lizzie really played her heart out today. In our team huddle after the match, I mentioned that her tank was on empty as the match expired. Coaches always talk about ‘leaving it all out on the court,’ and she did.
“Macy and Jordan were solid in two sets as they gained Norwalk's only win. (They) were impressive today, as they dominated the end of the first set and carried that into the second set. Sela and Mara fought their way through two sets, but the third set ended up being two long runs. Norwalk made a 4-1 run early and then Clyde clinched the match with a 5-0 run. As a team, I was super pleased that the ladies came to play today.”
Higgins believes that taking on tough opponents early in the season will only help his players to become better experienced.
"With the grind of the season, I always like facing top teams because it makes individuals better. One major reason we have high school athletics is to teach life skills including how to be competitive. Whatever the schedule says, you need to show up ready to go. A team can absolutely get better during a loss,” he said.
“Coming into the match, we had discussed that Clyde would be the overall favorite, but it would be close. The match played out a lot like we anticipated with two long three set matches that ended with 4-6 in the 3rd set.”
Norwalk and Clyde still have one more match to go, though. It is slated to take place on Sept. 12, this time on the Fliers’ home turf.
“I expect Round No. 2 with Clyde to be another long match,” Higgins added. “Good chance it will be decided by some third sets again.”