With both teams tied as the match drew on, the battle between Liberty’s Jenne Wirstlin and Antioch’s Ashley Custer became the deciding factor. Wirstlin, a freshman, took the first set and Custer won the second. Wirstlin then went on to win the tiebreaker, 10-8, giving the Lions a 5-4 victory.
Wirstlin was one of two junior varsity players who got promoted for Thursday’s game because two varsity players were unable to make it to the game during fall break.
“It was pretty nervous, especially going down to the wire, because we thought we were going to be able to pull it off on the other singles match,” Liberty head coach Priscilla Macksoud said. “I’m excited for (Wirstlin) because she’s the future.”
With the victory, the Lions moved to 3-2 overall and 2-2 against Bay Valley Athletic League opponents. It was the first league loss for the Panthers, who dropped to 3-4 overall and 3-1 in BVAL play. Macksoud said that it was the first time in her three years coaching Liberty that her squad beat Antioch.
Aside from Wirstlin, senior Sarah Graney was the only other singles player to win her match, topping Panthers senior Kelly Ferronato.
“I’m proud of the girls; they’ve stepped up and they’ve all kind of reached that next level and that’s what we’ve been pushing for,” Macksoud said. “They’ve accomplished a lot to do this today.”
Antioch head coach Larry Johnson said that while he was pleased with the play of his singles players, he’d like to see a little more out of his doubles teams. Liberty swept all three doubles matches.
The Panthers only have three returning starters from last year’s team, and most of Antioch’s doubles players are new to varsity competition.
“They just need a lot of work on their strokes and their strategy and the whole idea of playing doubles,” Johnson said. “I thought it was pretty much a coin toss before we went into it, but I didn’t know it would be this close.”