When the day came to a close, Cleveland escaped with a 4-3 victory. The Wildcats will now advance to the second round as they take on Pontotoc next week.
“I’m just proud of all of them,” Wildcats tennis coach Memorie Naron said. “They did the best they could. Now, we have to get ready for the next one.”
The most thrilling match of the day game in girls singles action when Cleveland’s Katherine Swafford took Houston’s Paige Griffin. The match went all three sets with both players showing a strong will to win. Griffin edged out Swafford in the first set 7-5, putting Swafford’s back against the wall.
Swafford, a junior, kept her composure and got tougher as the day progressed. Swafford battled even hard and won the second set 6-4 to force a third set tiebreaker.
The third set is where both players stepped it up as each player won game after game in the set, making it difficult for one person to get that crucial two-game advantage for the victory. When the third set came to a close, Swafford won 13-11 to earn a win for Cleveland.
“Katherine really stayed in there and focused and got the points that counted to give her a win,” Naron said.
In the girls doubles action, the Wildcats really imposed their will on the Hilltoppers. Juniors Lorna Leigh Rogers and Merrill Dean Rogers represented Cleveland well in No. 1 girls doubles action by easily defeating Houston’s Cameron Byrne and Brennan Byrne 6-0, 6-0, while juniors Ashley Braden Horton and Shelby Swafford were on top of their game in No. 2 girls doubles action for the Wildcats as they defeated the Hilltoppers’ team of Holly Powell and Casey Jo Hollingsworth in a hard fought match in straight sets 6-4, 7-5.
In No. 2 boys doubles action, Cleveland picked up its other win of the day as freshmen Daniel Woo and Will Virden defeated Houston’s Wes Craig and Jan Weaver 6-4, 6-3.
“I was really proud of Daniel Woo and Will Virden,” Naron said. “They played well together and helped each other out.”
Houston picked up wins over Cleveland in the boys singles, No. 1 boys doubles and mixed doubles matches. Ezra Blissard picked up a decisive straight set win over Cole Thomas, a sophomore, 6-1, 6-1 in the boys singles match; Walt Harrington and Chase Eldridge were in control all day in the No. 1 boys doubles match as they defeated Chase Fuller and Coleman Warrington, both juniors, 6-1, 6-0 and seventh grader Kody Causey and freshman Emma Hardy put up a tough battle for Cleveland in mixed doubles action but lost to seniors Lane Brandon and Hannah Welch in straight sets 6-4, 6-1.