FAIRBORN — The scorebooks and this newspaper will show that Fairborn won Thursday’s Sept. 20 Greater Western Ohio Conference, South division tennis match 5-0 on the Community Park courts, but on this day it seemed like everybody won.
Showing just what sportsmanship and all-around class is all about, the two teams played hard against each other, and laughed together just as hard.
Moments after Paige Murry claimed a 6-2, 6-7 (2) win over Xenia’s Grace McClelland, the two players dropped their rackets and sprawled out at courtside together just laughing and feeling glad the almost 2 1/2-hour match was finally over. Murry walked over to the Xenia players’ huddle after the match to trade phone numbers with her new-found friend McClelland. The two traded photos on their phones, and Xenia coach Kay Scott even snapped a few photos of the girls.
“You meet people in a match, and they get along with each other and become friends. … that was really nice to see,” Scott said. “And my girls played really well. Our record may not show it, but we’re getting better with every time we take to the court. I was proud of how they played today.”
At one point in the second set of the Murry-McClelland match, Xenia’s McClelland needed six break points to finally pull within 4-3 of Murry. In the next game, Murry battled back from an early deficit to send the game to deuce and McClelland laughed.
“Oh, gawd! Is this ANOTHER deuce game?” she said. Murry couldn’t help but laugh as well.
Earlier in the first singles match, the two players had to be pushed by their coaches to resume play. In the sweltering 90-degree heat, Murry and McClelland had sat down to take in some water and rest up a bit as they traded sides. While they were talking, Xenia teammate Kathleen Kelly sat down with the singles players and got in on the conversation.
That’s when the coaches intervened.
“They were there so long, I thought they were done!” Kelly was heard saying later.
In other Fairborn wins, McKayla Lyons claimed a 7-6 (4), 6-3 win over Grace’s sister, Alexis McClelland at No. 2 singles. At third singles, Rita Chien won 6-0, 6-0 over Autumn McCoy.
Doubles matches were won at No. 1 by Katelyn Byczkowski and Amanda Wilson, 6-1, 6-3 over Buccaneers Arynne Hoosier and Caitlyn Pence, and the second doubles pair of Caitlin Sanders-Abby Lafferty claimed a 6-0, 6-1 win over Xenia’s Anna Carlson and Kelly.
Fairborn coach Doug Coy appreciated the camaraderie and sportsmanship between the two teams.
The Skyhawks were celebrating Senior Night, and had invited the Xenia team over for pizza and snacks after the match, but Xenia had to get on their team bus at a certain time, and reluctantly couldn’t stay.
“This has not always been a very fun match with Xenia, especially two years ago when I first coached Fairborn. People didn’t get along and there were some hard feelings,” Coy said. “Last year was a little better, so this year we were prepared for more ugliness. But they were really really nice, and this was probably the most fun match we’ve played this season.
“That’s good. We’re so close to each other. This is the way it should be.”
Fairborn (6-12 overall, 3-5 GWOC American South) has one match remaining on its schedule: a Monday, Oct. 2 make-up date with Sidney on the Community Park courts.
Xenia (0-12, 0-8) hosts West Carrollton next at 4:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 25 on the Greene County Fairgrounds tennis courts.
Contact John Bombatch at 937-372-4444, Ext. 2123.