By Tommy Keeler Jr.
FRONT ROYAL -- Warren County was up against a tough opponent on Monday. Even though the Wildcats were unable to win any matches against defending Group A state champion George Mason, they were still able to take some real positives from the match.
The Mustangs pulled out some close matches at the bottom and pulled out a 9-0 Bull Run District girls tennis victory over the Wildcats.
"They're an awesome team," Warren County coach Jeannie Tallent said. "You can tell they're very versed in the game. It's a good opportunity for us to see where we need to work on our weaknesses."
The Mustangs (4-0, 1-0 Bull Run) took a quick 3-0 lead with wins at the top three singles spots. George Mason's Kynadi and Carrington Mauney won at No. 1 and 2, respectively. The sisters won the Group A individual doubles titles last year.
Dana Sembra won at No. 3 singles for the Mustangs.
At No. 4 singles, Warren County's Jayme Goode kept things close for a while with Caiti Hof. Goode trailed 5-4, but Hof won five of the last six games.
The two closest matches came at 5 and 6 singles. At No. 6, Warren County's Gabby Goodson led early on against Lauren Meinhart.
Goodson had a 6-5 lead, but Meinhart won the next three games. Goodson had a break point opportunity in the 14th game, but Meinhart was able to save it and won the final three points of the game. Goodson was able to hold serve to cut the lead to 8-7, but Meinhart took the final two games to win the match, 10-7.
"It was fun. It was the hardest one I've played all season," Goodson said. "It was definitely a challenge, but I enjoyed it. I just got tired. She tired me out. She did well, she really did."
At No. 5, Warren County's Lauren Peterson was in a battle with Sarah Mueller. Peterson trailed 7-4, but Mueller had to take an injury timeout to have her wrist taped up after suffering an injury.
When the two players resumed their battle, Peterson grabbed some momentum and took the next two games to cut the lead to 7-6.
"I felt better. I was more confident," Peterson said of her play after the timeout. "I was more positive, and I kind of stopped being more positive and confident towards the end."
Mueller took the next two games to extend her lead to 9-6. Peterson held serve to cut the lead to 9-7. Peterson had a 0-40 lead in the next game, but Mueller won the next four points and then finished it off on her second match point for a 10-7 victory.
"They're very consistent, which gave a lot of our girls a run for their money," George Mason coach Alex Ware said. "The score did not necessarily show that overall, but the matches were a lot closer than they looked."
George Mason lost only two of its top six from last year's state championship squad. Mariam Salakaia, who won the Group A individual singles title last year, chose not to play for the Mustangs this season.
The Mustangs still have a very solid team, and play host to Handley, a Group AA state quarterfinalist last year, today.
"They'll definitely be some tough competition," Ware said. "I'm excited for tomorrow. Going in on a positive note from today will be a great boost for our girls."
The Wildcats (2-1, 1-1 Bull Run) will play at Skyline on Wednesday, a match moved up from Friday due to the weather forecast.
Tallent said it was a great match for her team to learn from.
"You've got to play this level in order to get better," Tallent said. "You've got to learn. You learn from losing as well."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or firstname.lastname@example.org Follow on Twitter @tkeelernvd