LAURINBURG — Scotland girls’ tennis coach Atondra Ellis said this season would be a learning experience for her, as well as her team.
This is Ellis’s first season on the Scots’ sidelines, and with no seniors in the starting lineup, the program was sure to experience some growing pains.
In Scotland’s final tune up before the start of Southeastern Conference play, Marlboro Academy traveled to Laurinburg Tuesday and showed just how far the Scots have to go if they hope to compete for a conference crown, defeating the host 7-2.
The Dragons took four singles matches — No. 2 Ellen Vereen swept Anna Griswold 6-3, 6-2, and on court No. 3, Sara-Page Liles rolled to a 6-1, 6-1 win over Brooke Bathie. Meredith Haltiwanger bested Cheyenne Strong 6-2, 6-1 on No. 5, and No. 6 Abby Bruner bounced Karrigan Campbell 6-0, 6-1.
Scotland scored its two points when Camryn Ellis defeated Wimberly Boan 6-2, 6-0 in No. 1 singles, and Grace McIntyre outlasted Natalie Tillis 3-6, 6-1, 11-9 on court No. 4.
Four juniors, two sophomores and one freshman make up the Scots’ roster, and Ellis said they’ve worked hard during the nonconference schedule as they prepare for the SEC opener Thursday against Purnell Swett.
“We’ve had to do a lot of drills and conditioning because they weren’t used to the running, in addition to working on skills,” Ellis said. “They’re a tough bunch, they can take it.”
In doubles, Marlboro Academy defeated Scotland in all three matches to secure the victory.
Boan and Vereen bested Griswold and Ellis 8-4 in No. 1 doubles — the loss was the first of the season for the Scotland duo.
Page-Liles and Tillis took care of Bathie and McIntyre 8-3 on court No. 2, and Haltiwanger and Bruner pulled away to defeat Strong and Campbell 8-5.
Scotland split its two meetings with Cape Fear before losing to Whiteville earlier this month. The loss to Marlboro Academy dropped the Scots to 1-3 this year, but they will travel to Bennettsville to play the Dragons in a rematch next Tuesday.
Ellis said her team will use the lessons learned during the early part of the season for future matches as the Scots enter the heart of their schedule.
“Each time we’ve played someone, it’s given us a different thing to work on,” Ellis said. “It frustrated them that day, but they learned so much from it and have been able to incorporate that stuff into their own.”
“Net play and serves” are what Ellis wants her team to work on after this defeat.
Despite the team’s youth, Ellis sees budding talent in all of her players and hopes they continue to work on their craft moving forward.
“They play out there and play hard — there’s promise in every one of them,” she said.
Logan Martinez can be reached at 910-506-3170. Follow him on Twitter @L_Martinez13.