Robertson’s rally keys Warriors victory over Eagles

Kathryn Robertson

STEPHENS CITY — Kathryn Robertson wasn’t going to give up.

The Sherando junior was staring down a possible third set in her No. 4 singles match with Freedom’s Reva Kodre on Wednesday in the Region 4A West girls tennis semifinals. Robertson trailed 5-2 in the second set, having already won the first set.

Robertson was able to fight back and get a 6-2, 7-6 (3) victory to clinch the team match for the Warriors.

“When I went down 5-2, I didn’t want to go to a third set,” Robertson said. “I wanted to get it right there, because she had started playing really well. It would have been really hard to come back because she was a really good player. I think that when I got it back to 5-4, I knew I could take it.”

Kodre, a freshman, hadn’t lost a singles match all season, and Robertson said she knew it was going to be tough from the start.

Robertson said Kodre made a lot of unforced errors in the first set, but began to steady her game in the second set.

“She started hitting a lot more consistent, a lot more powerful,” Robertson said.

Robertson cut the deficit to 5-4 in the second set, and by that time also knew that if she won her match the Warriors would be headed for their second straight state tournament appearance. Her match was the only one still going on.

“When I found that out I was pretty excited, because I knew that if I won we’d go to states,” Robertson said. “But I was also pretty excited, because I knew that my teammates played well in singles and I just wanted to follow that.”

Trailing 5-4, Robertson saved a set point and eventually held serve to even the second set at 5-5.

The next game was another long game with Robertson breaking Kodre’s serve for a 6-5 lead. The last point of the game was a 27-shot rally, ending with an unforced error from Kodre.

“She is tenacious,” Sherando coach Trevor Johnson said of Robertson. “There’s no quit in that girl. She played every point like her life depended on it.”

Kodre was able to break Robertson’s serve in the next game to force a tiebreaker to decide the set.

Robertson was able to get off to a quick start. Leading 3-1, Robertson won the point of the match. She hit a forehand winner to end a 54-shot rally and take a 4-1 edge.

“I just wanted to stay consistent,” Robertson said of the tiebreaker. “I didn’t want to have any unforced errors, because those get me down. And I just wanted to keep playing point-by-point and being consistent, and then attacking when the time is right.”

Kodre was able to battle back and cut the lead to 4-3, but three straight errors by Kodre helped seal the one-hour 56-minute match for Robertson.

Robertson is also going to be in the Group 4A individual doubles state tournament on June 9 in Roanoke with teammate Abby Sears.

This is the first year that Robertson has played singles on a regular basis. Last year she played mostly doubles. She said advancing to states feels a little different this year, since she’s also playing in singles.

“I feel like I was a part of it last year, but I feel like I have had more help in being able to make it there this year,” Robertson said.

Johnson said he was very happy with the way Robertson played to win the match.

“They battled, and I’m proud of the way Kathryn battled back,” Johnson said. “She was down 5-2 and came back and won in a tiebreaker. It’s just a testament to how she battles. She is one of the best battlers that I’ve ever come across.”