0

Collins, Lovejoy pull out win to clinch No. 1 seed

Photo by Brian Paglia

Lovejoy's Jill Martin hits the ball Thursday in the Lady Wildcats 4-1 victory Thursday over Mundy's Mill. Martin cruised to an 8-0 win in her match at No. 1 singles.

Photo by Brian Paglia Lovejoy's Jill Martin hits the ball Thursday in the Lady Wildcats 4-1 victory Thursday over Mundy's Mill. Martin cruised to an 8-0 win in her match at No. 1 singles.

By Brian Paglia

bpaglia@news-daily.com

Kandyce Collins' hands were shaking, but relief could be detected in her voice. Not one usually swayed by pressure situations, the Lovejoy No. 2 singles player felt some heat with her match tied and the Lady Wildcats counting on the senior.

Then the backhand winners began to fall. She crushed a forehand winner in the eighth game. She finished the ninth game with an ace.

Collins fought through her inconsistencies to pull out an 8-5 victory over

Mundy's Mill's Erin Tate and help Lovejoy secure the No. 1 seed in Region 4-AAAA with a 4-1 win over the Lady Tigers at the Gerald Matthews Complex on Thursday.

"I struggled so hard to try to get back up," Collins said. "I just thought, 'I cannot quit. I cannot give up.' It's so easy to give up, but I was not going to go down without a fight."

'"She hung tough in that game," Lovejoy girls' tennis coach Rashell Robinson said. "She had to make some adjustments. She had to move more, get her racquet out more. But she did it in the end. She pulled it out."

Lovejoy (10-1, 10-0 Region 4-AAAA) ends the regular season as the top team in the region, which gives them the top seed when the region tournament begins April 11 at The Beach at Clayton County International Park.

And the Lady Wildcats got some measure of revenge for a 3-2 loss to Mundy's Mill last season.

"It was a personal victory," Robinson said. "The kids were really looking forward to playing this team."

Collins said her win was personal, but for a different reason.

Though she is the team's No. 2 singles player, she was scheduled to play third after Nos. 1 and 3 singles. Jill Martin gave Lovejoy a dominating 8-0 win at No. 1 singles against Imani Vickers, but Marion Kone lost 8-4 to Mundy's Mill's Brianna Leverette at No. 3 singles, putting pressure on Collins to deliver, especially with the unpredictable nature of the doubles matches.

But Collins relished the opportunity.

"It's under pressure," Collins said. "You just have to try to stay humble and hope everything works."

With the match tied at 3-3, Collins made her move, winning the next three games to go up 6-3. Tate won two of the next three games to pull within 7-5, and then pushed Collins to 40-all in the next game.

"That last point is so hard to get," Collins said.

But Collins got it, placing a forehand winner perfectly in the corner to seal the match and point an exclamation point on the final regular season match of her high school career.

"I'm so happy that I won it for my team," Collins said. "We all work together. Our team work is great. It just makes me feel proud that I did it my last year."

Lovejoy 4, Mundy's Mill 1

Singles: Jill Martin (Lj) d. Imani Vickers (MM), 8-0; Kandyce Collins (Lj) d. Erin Tate, 8-5; Brianna Leverette (MM) d. Marion Kone (Lj), 8-4.

Doubles: Amber Holmes/Aiyanna Hastings (Lj) d. Chioma Ohuoba/Aryn Ward (MM), 8-1; Rockell Harris/Kayla Burrows (Lj) d. Adrianna Ramsey/Destiny Jemison (MM), 8-3.