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Sterling beats Newman in first meet on rebuilt surfaces

Order on the new courts

STERLING – The reviews are in on Sterling High School's new tennis courts, and every one of them is a rave.

The Golden Warriors are still undefeated in their new digs, opening the season and christening their new playing surfaces with a 4-1 victory over the Newman Comets on Tuesday.

"That's one of the things we talked about before the meet," Sterling's Maura Scanlan said. "We wanted to make a good impression by playing well on our new courts. It was so cool not to worry about the bounces, and I think we played with a little more confidence today because of it."

The marquee match was at No. 3 doubles, where Audrey Melton and Erin Vits picked up the lone point for the Comets with a 6-2, 6-7 (5), 13-11 victory in a third-set super-tiebreaker.

"I was thinking that Audrey and I had the advantage, because we've played together for a while now," Vits said. "I was also thinking that I was so hungry – I haven't eaten since lunch – and that was good motivation."

Melton and Vits led 5-4 and 6-5 in the second set, but Sterling's Anna Ivarson and Aly Meeks – paired up for just the second time – refused to back down. They forced a second-set tiebreaker, then won that 7-5 to force a winner-take-all super-tiebreaker.

"We just had to keep telling ourselves not to give up," Meeks said. "It's tough to play out here in the hot sun for 2½ hours, and it's hard sometimes to keep pushing. But we kept going, and it was fun to play so well."

In the super-tiebreaker, the Comet duo jumped out to an 8-3 lead, and looked to have things wrapped up quickly. But again, the Warriors wouldn't give in.

Sterling scored eight of the next nine points to take a 10-9 lead, forcing the Comets to dig deep and find some composure.

"Our high-5s were actually the key," Ivarson said with a giggle. "We were really pumping each other up, shaking off the points we had lost and focusing on winning the next point. I kind of thought we were going to pull it out."

But not to be outdone, Newman bounced back to take four of the next five points for the victory.

"We just had to keep our heads about ourselves, and not lose our wits," Melton said. "We had to stay aggressive, even if we didn't win a point, because if you keep focusing on making something happen, in the end you end up doing well.

"But Anna and Aly should be very proud of themselves, because they played very, very well; that was one of the best matches I've ever played in."

Vits served a pair of aces to restore order, taking Newman from the 10-9 deficit to an 11-10 lead. After Meeks hit a winner to tie the tiebreak at 11, Vits finished things off with a pair of overhead winners at the net.

"I knew what I had to do to help us win," Vits said, "and we got some confidence from the aces, and went from there."

Vits' older sister, Anne, was part of the No. 1 singles match that went to a tiebreaker in the first set before Scanlan put it away down the stretch.

Anne Vits led early in the first set, but Scanlan battled back to force the tiebreaker, which she won 7-2. That gave the Sterling junior some confidence, and she rode that to victory.

"When I got down, it got to me," Scanlan said, "but once I realized how I needed to play against her, I figured out a strategy and stuck to it.

"She hits it so hard, that I just focused on getting it back over the net. When I started longer rallies, I was winning those points."

The rallies were the difference. Anne Vits, who took over the No. 1 spot which was filled by Mary Alice Oswalt the past 4 years, said nerves played a part at times. She said the mental adjustment in moving up from No. 2 singles to the top spot is something she's still working on.

"It'd a little daunting when you think about having to play the other teams' best player every match," Anne Vits said. "I'm trying to prepare myself a little more ahead of time, but that first match of the season is always rough.

"I was just getting frustrated at times, but I am happy with how I played overall. I can only go up from here."

Did You Know?

• Tuesday's season opener was the first meet Sterling has played on its new tennis courts, located about 30 yards farther west than the old ones. The courts, which were originally built in the early 1950s and had only been patched and re-painted since, were dedicated Friday night during Meet the Warriors.

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