Wildcats top Hawks to remain unbeaten

FRONT ROYAL — Warren County’s girls tennis squad was in an unusual position on Tuesday. The Wildcats’ match with Skyline wasn’t clinched before doubles, but Warren County handled the pressure with ease.

The Wildcats swept the three doubles matches at home to pull out a 7-2 win and move to a perfect 9-0 on the season.

“It keeps us on our toes and we need that — we really do,” Warren County coach Katie Brennen said of the competitive match. ” … You’re only going to get better by playing someone that’s just as good as you.”

It was only the fourth time this season in which the matches wasn’t decided in singles for the Wildcats. Skyline also pushed the Wildcats in their previous meeting on March 27, a 6-3 win for Warren County.

Warren County’s No. 2 doubles team of Pearl Moore and Jamie Kitzmiller defeated Skyline’s Jordan Lurie and Becca Willard, 10-0, in 31 minutes.

“I think we did a good job with placing the balls where we wanted them to be, so we pulled them off the court and then had open spots to go to,” Kitzmiller said.

Moore and Kitzmiller played together at No. 3 doubles last year, and have not lost a match this season. The pair take lessons together on weekends and are also good friends, all of which helps them be a solid tandem.

“They work really well. Jamie is very good at trying to do those power hits and Pearl is consistent,” Brennen said. ” … Together they work out really well. [Moore] can return it and Jamie can place the ball where it needs to go.”

Warren County’s Moore (No. 2 singles), Alyssa Pauley (No. 4) and Gabby Goodson (No. 6) each won 10-0. Warren County’s Bridget Backstrom won 10-5 over Skyline’s Jakya Jones for a critical fourth singles win.

Backstrom led 6-5, before taking the final four games to seal the 55-minute match.

“I didn’t play her last time so I went in not knowing anything about her, so it made me a little nervous,” Backstrom said. “After hitting a little bit with her, I kind of found my rhythm and just used that to my advantage.”

The Hawks (7-6) picked up a win at No. 3 singles as Lurie beat Kitzmiller, 10-7, in one-hour and five minutes.

“She saw everything,” Skyline coach John Natalie said. “She cut down her unforced errors because she was seeing the ball off the racket, immediately getting in position to make a nice swing on the ball. When Jordan gets to where she needs to be, she’s got a pretty swing and she’s very, very consistent.”

Skyline’s Kaylee Venable defeated Warren County’s Jayme Goode, 10-6 in a one-hour 35-minute match. Goode defeated Venable, 10-6, in their previous meeting on March 27.

Venable said her mentality was key to turning things around this time.

“I think my attitude towards [the match] was better,” Venable said. “I moved my feet more and didn’t give up on a shot.”

The two traded breaks throughout the match, but Veneable broke Goode’s serve for an 8-6 lead. The Skyline sophomore was able to save three break points in the following game and finally held on a service winner and an error from Goode. She then broke Goode again to seal the victory.

“They’re just very similar, very intense,” Brennen said. “What makes it better is they’re good friends too, so it’s nice to see that friendly competition.”

The Hawks were playing without their normal No. 2 singles player Alicia Zarzuela, but the change in the lineup went smoothly.

Natalie said he was very happy with the way his team performed.

“We had our ups and downs out there, but any time that you’re alive going into doubles against a team that’s as good as Warren County you have to be pleased with the effort by my girls,” Natalie said. ” … I was really impressed with how hard my girls were playing, and how smart as well.”

Warren County could see Skyline again in the Conference 28 tournament and the players said they enjoy playing against their cross-town rivals.

“We’re all really nice with each other and have a good time,” Backstrom said. “It’s not like playing some other school were you feel the tension there. It’s nice to play with people who enjoy playing tennis.”

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com