Elizabethton takes win over Happy Valley

Published 8:52 pm Thursday, March 17, 2016

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After losing a singles match that it looked like she had in her hands, Happy Valley tennis standout Grace Sauer was not very happy after she left the court.

Sauer then called on a valuable friend in Amber Earp to get some revenge and to turn what was not a great start to the day into a happy ending.

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Sauer lost a tough No. 2 singles match 9-7 to Elizabethton’s Eliana Rangel where she held a 5-2 advantage,but rebounded nicely as she teamed up with Earp to take an 8-3 doubles victory over Elizabethton’s Abby Bryan and Caitlyn Gardner during a team match between Carter County rivals Elizabethton and Happy Valley. The Lady Cyclones won, 7-2.

Sauer dominated the first part of her match against Rangel, but could not finish the deal and it forced an awkward situation for Sauer as she had to go right back out almost as soon as she was finished with the singles match.

Coming right back into the fire turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to Sauer as the Lady Warrior Junior teamed up with Earp and her solid net game, and the duo turned out to play a near flawless match.

Sauer really didn’t want to dwell on the singles match for very long. She wanted to come out and get one of her biggest wins of her career and do it with her friend Earp.

“It was really hard, but I wanted to go out there because I was in the zone,” said Sauer. “I was really angry, so I wanted to win one.”

Earp knew Sauer had a tough match, but knows they are a team and that they wanted to have a big match win over their biggest rival together.

“I wanted this for the both of us,” said Earp. “This is a big accomplishment for us. This is our second year in doubles and I think we deserved it. We did well.”

Sauer saw a familiar score on the board midway through the match as they were up 5-2, but this time there would be no comeback.

The exclamation point might have been a volley by Earp on game point that put the Lady Warrior tandem ahead 7-3. They served it out from there and Sauer had her revenge and Earp had sown up her most precious win as an HVHS player.

“This is a really big win,” said Sauer.

Said Earp: “I think this is really showing what we can do. This really pushes our confidence up and playing against Elizabethton isn’t easy in anything, but I think with this win it will motivate us to play hard every time we go out to play and I think it is some insight on what everyone is going to see this year.”

Happy Valley’s other win also came in doubles as Kaitlyn Wagner and Katelynn McKeehan had a huge win in their own right, taking an 8-1 victory at the No. 2 seed over Annie Street and Maggie Shankles.

Sauer’s opponent in that singles match definitely had a very dramatic comeback as the Lady Cyclone Rangel fell behind 3-0 and then 5-2, but things quickly turned around after a couple of conversations with assistant coach Curtis Brumit.

Rangel didn’t get rattled and kept fighting. She started playing more loose and hitting her groundstrokes with more power. As a result, things worked to her advantage.

“It was difficult to not give up and say that she is going to win so why bother,” said Rangel. “I knew I could win and that I wanted to. It was more for more of my personal pride and arrogance that I wanted to.”

Brumit was getting off of his day job and arriving at the tennis courts when he noticed Rangel was behind 3-0 in the match. He immediately went to the fence and then went to the fence again when the score was 5-2.

Those words turned out to be magic for Rangel.

“He said hit the shots you know you can hit, don’t focus on getting in, focus on swinging the way you should, getting up over the ball and everything would work out.

Both Rangel and Sauer were very consistent and early on in the match Sauer was not making mistakes. Later on Rangel started hitting with more pop on her ground strokes and also improved her first serve and it led to the win.

The match was on serve at 7-6, then Rangel had a big hold to tie it at 7-7. The dagger was a break of serve in the 15th game of the match that gave Rangel an 8-7 win, and she went on to secure the win.

“My serves were really slow at the start of the match like the rest of my game, but Curtis told me to keep watching them as long as I could before actually hitting them and then putting the power back into it again.”

Rangel felt Sauer was a very similar opponent to her, but in the end she had a few more weapons when it counted.

“Her serve was really consistent and in a lot and so were all her groundstrokes,” said Rangel. “It was hard to go back and forth sometimes.”

On a day where Elizabethton standout Danielle Vines opted not to play, the Lady Cyclones received an 8-2 win from Carole Sweeley over Earp, an 8-1 win for Rachel Peters over Kaitlyn Wagner and Jordan Teague and Carmen Spoviero book took 8-1 wins at No. 4 and No. 5 singles over Katelyn McKeehan and Vanessa Hayworth.

Elizabethton won No. 6 singles and No. 3 doubles by forfeit.