PDT Sports Editor
Portsmouth defeated Ironton 4-1 in a best-of-five tennis match Tuesday evening. The Trojans improved their record to 8-2 with the victory.
“We are playing really well,” Portsmouth coach Amy Keating said. “We started out a little slow but I think everybody does in the beginning.”
Keating likes the quality of play from her squad at this point in the season.
“The girls have really come together,” Keating said. “They have started to gel and I think they are pretty strong now.”
One of the pieces to the puzzle is senior Ali Miller, who finished fourth in the state last season. Miller defeated Ironton freshman Aleigha Justice 6-0, 6-0 Tuesday.
“I think overall I played well,” Miller said. “I played a good opponent from Ironton. They always bring out someone tough. It was a good overall match.”
On the season, Miller hasn’t lost a set, let alone a match, and has only lost five total games.
“She works year around,” Keating said. “She has really made focusing a top priority. She is continuously improving.”
The lefty has had two golden matches in her career, which at any level of tennis, is a rare occurrence. A golden match is when a player doesn’t lose a point the entire contest.
Keating admitted that it takes a tremendous amount of concentration and focus to play a perfect match. A player cannot have one unforced error, one double fault or one miss hit of the ball.
Regardless of the opponent or the situation, Miller has the same demeanor when she walks onto the court.
“I really enjoy playing high school tennis and playing with my team,” Miller said. “… Every match is the same, I don’t look at it any differently.”
Regardless of the amount of success Miller has enjoyed, Keating feels there is always room for improvement.
“If there is anything, and we have talked about it, it’s probably mixing up her shots,” Keating said. “Not just hitting from the baseline but to move in, hit drop shots. She is improving on that.”
According to Keating, focus is the main priority for Miller has she works on secondary shots — sentiments that were echoed by Miller.
“I really need to work on my focus more and my footwork, and mixing the ball up a little bit more,” Miller said.
Even though Miller is the senior leader, the Trojans own an 8-2 record with a strong supporting cast, Keating said.
Lydia Cohen is a sophomore who has spent the offseason defining her game.
“Lydia started taking some offseason lessons this year, which has really helped her improve” Keating said. “She has great ground strokes. The main thing I want to see her improve upon is consistency.”
Cohen played on the second singles line against the Fighting Tigers senior Lailee Hass and won her match 6-4, 1-6, 6-4.
Playing in a third singles match against Ironton as a freshman was Chelsea Cartee.
“She has been really strong for us,” Keating said. “She has won quite a bit at the third singles level. I’m really proud of the work she has done.”
Cartee played junior Ariel Whitt. Cartee withdrew from the match during the first set because of an illness.
According to Keating, doubles play has been a strong suit for the Trojans this season. Allison Raies and Alex Scott make up the first tandem, while Mazie Lawson and Molly Kammler compete as the second unit.
Regardless of the tandem, or their specific order on the match list, Keating doesn’t see much difference between the four players.
“They have been together the last five or six matches and to be honest with you, my first doubles pair and second doubles pair are equally has strong,” Keating said. “They are all four strong players.”
Raies and Scott played on the first doubles line against Ironton’s Danielle Ailster and Shelby Keating. Raies and Scott won the match, 6-0, 6-3.
Lawson and Kammler played Kylie Barcus and Kierra Sowards in the second doubles match. Lawson and Kammler won their match, 6-3, 6-3.
Portsmouth travels to Jackson Wednesday. Next week, the Trojans will welcome Athens, Waverly and Minford to Portsmouth on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday before traveling to Wheelersburg on Thursday.
Chris Slone can be reached at 353-3101, ext 298, or firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking sports news, follow Chris on Twitter @crslone.
Ali Miller (P) def. Aleigha Justice (I) 6-0, 6-0
Lydia Cohen (P) def. Hailee Hass (I) 6-4, 1-6, 6-4
Ariel Whitt (I) def. Chelsea Cartee (P) 6-5 forfeit
Allison Raies/Alex Scott (P) def. Danielle Ailster/Shelby Keating (I) 6-0, 6-3
Mazie Lawson/Molly Kammler (P) def. Kyle Barcus/Kierra Sowards (I) 6-3, 6-3