Leading 5-3 in the third set and up 40-0 in the ninth game, Brownstown Central freshman Jenny Runge tossed up a serve.
When Corydon Central returned the ball, Runge and junior teammate Jordan Trowbridge switched spots. Trowbridge then hit a high-arching shot to the opposite side of the court, and it landed inbounds out of the Panthers’ reach.
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Both girls then were able to celebrate the set and No. 2 doubles match, which gave their team the clinching third point. The Braves went on to win the Mid-Southern Conference match 3-2 on Thursday night at home.
“Thinking about last year how many times I watched other doubles teams go into three sets and struggle through that and lose, it was so good to feel the exhilaration of a final win,” Trowbridge said.
Runge said she was caught up in the moment and didn’t even realize they had a shot at the deciding point. But she served the ninth game with confidence.
“Your mental game is almost everything in tennis,” Runge said. “If your mental game is good, you should be hitting good shots, good serves.”
Following a tough 6-4 loss in the first set, Runge and Trowbridge pounced on the Panthers 6-0 in the second set.
“We don’t play as well in the first set. We have to get into our game for some reason. It takes a while sometimes,” Trowbridge said.
Runge said she and her partner started thinking about form and placing shots.
“We were really meshing well,” she said. “We were switching. We were getting good shots.”
Brownstown built a 2-1 lead with all of the singles matches completed. All eyes were then on the doubles courts.
While No. 2 doubles pulled out the game-winning point, the No. 1 doubles team of senior Heidi Martin and freshman Sydney Cockerham fell short in three sets.
They also lost their first set 6-4, but they won by that score in the second set. They then fell behind 4-1 in the third set before rallying to even the score at 5. Corydon’s Annie Blumenstock and Grace Gusler then closed out the final two games.
“No. 2 doubles, they struggled a lot, and they were able to gut out a win,” Braves coach Erik Stangland said. “It wasn’t pretty, but they were able to get it, and they got the match for us, and that made a huge difference.”
He said the No. 1 doubles duo was disappointed after the match.
“They know they should have played better, and they struggled early,” he said. “They just had to fight the whole match. They just couldn’t get a rhythm or anything else going to fall their way. It was a close match to go three sets.”
Braves freshman Laken Reynolds scored the team’s first point with a 6-1, 6-0 win at No. 1 singles.
Not long after, senior Brooke Hattabaugh wrapped up a 6-1, 6-1 win at No. 2 singles.
“That’s good to see, especially when we struggled a little bit early at those two positions,” Stangland said. “They just couldn’t get the games over, and it looked like it was going to be a tough match. Then they both got out and just got going. That was maybe the deciding factor, was to have those two off the court before anybody else. That helped.”
Corydon’s other point came from Meredith Wells’ 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 win against Brownstown freshman Claire Smith at No. 3 singles.
Smith broke a 2-all tie in the second set by winning four of the final five games. But in the third set, Wells snapped a 1-1 score by taking the final five games.
“Claire struggled tonight,” Stangland said. “She had to fight back in the second set. She didn’t run out of steam. I just think she let down in the third set. She’s a freshman, and I expect that she’s going to learn from this and just get better and better.”
The win moved the Braves to 3-6 overall and 2-3 in the MSC. They are back in action with two matches in Saturday’s Lanesville Invitational. Then they have matches four of five days next week.