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The Oconee County High School varsity tennis team had its first meet on Tuesday, coming away from the event with mixed results.
Junior Cadence Keese took a 1-6, 2-6 victory in her match with North Oconee’s Mary Grace Segars, while senior Brinley Bartlett won in straight sets over Victoria Leopold.
“We got it done,” Bartlett said. “I think we all have things that we can reflect on, that we can get better on, but we had fun and we did what we needed to do.”
Bartlett is one of the only seniors on the Oconee County girls team. The other fourth-year, Isabel Miller, won 2-6, 0-6 in her doubles match with Mary Linda Veit.
Miller said her goal for her final high school campaign was simple: postseason success. Bartlett’s aspirations are a little more abstract.
“I want to play to the best of my ability,” Bartlett said. “I just want to do what I know I can do, and have fun doing it.”
While Oconee County’s girls had plenty of success in their first matches, the boys team wasn’t quite so effective. Lleyton Beasley, Palmer Byrnes and Joshua Perry took three straight sets singles matches for North Oconee, establishing a dominant edge for their doubles participants.
North Oconee coach Laurinda Freeland said she was pleased with the showing from both her girls and boys teams, given how young the season is.
“It’s all a learning experience, especially in the beginning,” Freeland said. “The doubles are learning how to play together, the single players may not have played varsity singles yet. It’s all a learning experience for the first month.”
Freeland said that Oconee County was one of the toughest opponents she was expecting to face this season, and Oconee County coach James Blose expressed a similar sentiment.
The action and momentum varied from court to court on Tuesday, illustrating the back-and-forth dynamic between these two teams. Freeland said she was happy to face such a talented opponent early in the season, to help prepare her team for obstacles to come.
“It gets them going,” Freeland said of the challenge. “It makes them realize that they can hang, and that they can get better. I really like it when we have some good opponents in the beginning (of the season).”
Oconee County is off to a strong start to the season. The girls team is 3-0 following wins over Hart County and Morgan County, and the boys have bounced back with wins over Hart and Morgan and sit at 2-1.
“We’re going to play with passion,” Blose said. “We’re looking forward to every challenge we’re going to face, and we’re going to enjoy them … This is just the beginning. We look forward to the season.”