By Beth Cox
The JCHS girls had more to prove than just winning a title when it came to the competition against South Greene.
But, according to the TSSAA records, JCHS has never had a girls’ tennis team make it to sub-state, which made the victory over the Lady Rebels even sweeter.
Last year’s loss left a bitter taste with the girls, and they were eager to fight for a long overdue win.
A large number of fans that came out to cheer the Lady Longhorns to victory Thursday at JCHS tennis courts were fortunate to witness the fight these girls had as they went into battle against the Lady Rebels.
For a tennis team to advance to the next level, the team would have to win four out of seven matches. The first team to win four matches would go to sub-state.
No. 1 seed, Taylor Cox would once again face off with her nemesis Jaelyn Casteel. The two have faced each other four other times, with Casteel always getting the win.
However, the tides quickly turned as a determined Cox never let up on Casteel. Cox was behind in the first set, but quickly caught up and the first set would go to a tiebreaker.
Cox expressed how she was already a “nervous wreck,” but when she was faced with a tiebreaker she “about lost it.”
“I had never won a tiebreaker, so I was just about to cry when we reached that point,” she said.
Cox buckled down harder, and everyone watching the match saw an unwavering spirit come over the Lady Longhorn as she would go on to win her first ever tiebreaker.
The defeat from the tiebreaker seemed too much for Casteel, and Cox took full advantage of her vulnerability and quickly captured the second set.
As Taylor Cox was giving her all against her opponent, her twin sister Olivia Cox was also playing one of her best matches. Olivia seemed to have had fire coming from that racquet, and her opponent quickly felt the burn and couldn’t handle the power plays from the junior Longhorn which led to Olivia’s 6-3, 6-3 win.
“I wanted this win so bad, Last year was a tough loss for our team,” Olivia said. “I didn’t want that to happen again.” She continued, “I love my teammates, and it would be so nice if we all could go to state.”
After the Cox twins won their matches, the team had two more wins before they could claim the victory. The next two wins would come from two fierce, strong-willed athletes; No. 3 Taylor Parsons and No. 5 Rhiannon Icenhour. The girls’ do-or-die attitude secured the team’s spot at sectionals.
Assistant Coach, Tim Tugman said, “Winning regionals for this team was an impressive feat, and each player contributed to this success.”