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Although Beddingfield High is coming off a championship season in the 2-A Eastern Plains Conference, Hunt coach Wayne Hardy considers his Lady Warriors and the Lady Bruins as girls tennis teams with similar predicaments — few returnees and lean in experience.
But with its two returnees, junior Ali Parbst and senior Cara Moss, situated at the top of the lineup, host Hunt of the 3-A Big East Conference claimed an 8-1 triumph against its archrival in the sweltering heat Wednesday afternoon.
Despite an occasional breeze, the match dragged because of the heat and frequent breaks to apply towels and consume fluids.
Both teams officially opened their seasons in an exhibition of pitty-pat tennis because Hunt’s three matches in the Wilson Cup were deemed unofficial due to playing before the official opening playing date as set forth by the North Carolina High School Athletic Association.
“Both teams are playing beginning tennis with a lot of girls that either played exhibitions last year or are playing for the first time,” Hardy noted. “Our goal is to get better every practice, every match. We’ve still got a long ways to go.
“I’m pretty happy to get a win anytime we can get one. As long as we are improving, that’s all you can pretty much ask for.”
Beddingfield’s plans hit an immediate snag. No. 1 player Christmas Haynesworth. a transfer from Washington, D.C., retired after taking a 2-1 lead because of the heat and malnutrition.
Her absence the rest of the afternoon resulted in a revamped doubles lineup. However, junior Annie Greene-senior newcomer Anna Gardner moved up a slot to No. 1 and averted the Lady Bruins being shut out by fighting to an 8-6 triumph against Parbst-sophomore Kaley Gesell.
“A tough first match,” Beddingfield coach Jeremy Howard described. “Hunt has a couple of returnees at the top. I was pleased with our effort. I saw good things that will help us as the season goes on.
“Our Nos. 3-6 players were either exhibition players last year or newcomers. It was good for them to get some live swings.”
Hunt got singles wins from Parbst at No. 1, Moss at No. 2, Gesell at No. 3, sophomore Emma Rand at No.4, senior Carolina Vasquez at No. 5 and sophomore Emma Johnson at No. 6.
Rand, who has advanced from exhibitions in 2018 to the No. 4 singles slot, labored nearly two hours before dispensing with Beddingfield senior Liza Ameca, 6-4, 7-5. Ameca is in this year’s lineup after playing one match last season.
“It’s just hot,” Rand reacted. We just kept getting into deuce (points). It was back and forth.”
Rand noted she struggled with wide shots but felt placement proved her primary ally.
“I hit the ball where she couldn’t get to it,” Rand, a left-hander, added. “I used it to my advantage.”
Ameca wasn’t shy complaining about the heat but blamed her performance — especially her backhands and lack of endurance — for being denied a more favorabe outcome. Her major obstacle?
“This weather,” Ameca responded.
“We both did good and we both tried our best. Yes, I think I could have won if I had tried harder. It was a tough match and I was praying I would win.
“She showed good sportsmanship and it was a fair match.”
With both competitors wearing sunglasses, Hunt’s Gesell turned back senior Cynthia Milan 6-3, 6-4 at No. 3.
No Lady Warrior prevailed without dropping a game and Beddingfield offered stout opposition in doubles.
“We didn’t know how good (Beddingfield) was,” Rand explained, “but I felt pretty good about our team.”
The Lady Bruins visit 1-A Tarboro on Thursday. Howard views Tarboro as one of 10 “very winnable” matches for Beddingfield.
“We’ll try to get those,” he said.
HUNT 8, BEDDINGFIELD 1
Ali Parbst (H) def. Christmas Haynesworth 1-2, ret.; Cara Moss (H) def. Annie Green 6-2,6-3; Kaley Gesell (H) def. Cythia Milan 6-3, 6-4; Emma Rand (H) def. Liz Ameca 6-4, 7-5; Carolina Vasquez (H) def. Anna Gardner 6-1,6-4; Emma Johnson (H) def. Jasmin Arias 6-2, 6-3.
Green-Gardner (B) def. Parbst-Gesell 8-6(H); Moss-Rand (H) def. Ameca-Milan 8-5; Vasquez-Johnson (H) def. Abby Edmundson-Karina Alvarez 8-4.