MASON — Clinton-Massie’s Anne Thompson and Hailey Clayborn saw their season end Thursday at the Division II district tennis tournament at the Lindner Family Tennis Center.
Thompson and Clayborn were defeated by Tippecanoe seniors Jordan Jones and Sophia McDowell, 6-3, 6-2.
The first-ever district qualifiers in Clinton-Massie girls tennis history fell to the sectional champions of the Troy sectional, but not without a battle.
“These are two of the hardest-working girls I’ve ever seen on a tennis court,” CM head coach Lynn Deatherage said. “They worked very hard in the offseason to develop their game and the community has been very supportive.”
Clinton-Massie made inroads on every Tippecanoe service game. However, the difference in the match ended up being Tippecanoe’s ability to break serve.
The Red Devils broke the Falcons in the first seven CM service games.
Nevertheless, it was an outstanding season for Thompson and Clayborn. The senior Thompson finished 24-9 on the season, which will put her near the top of the all-time wins list at CMHS, according to Deatherage.
“All of my career I’ve played singles, so this was a lot different,” Thompson said. “But I’m glad I played with Hailey. I can’t imagine playing with anybody else.”
Thompson said reaching the district tournament shows how far the program has progressed.
“It just shows how hard we worked to establish our school as a tennis program,” Thompson said. “I’m just glad that I’ve grown and had a lot of people to help me.”
Meanwhile, it was a tough year off the court for Clayborn, who missed several weeks due to injury. She was 16-4 on the season.
“It’s been humbling,” Clayborn said. “I didn’t think I would get to sectionals when this happened, and I for sure knew I wasn’t going to be able to play singles. When (Deatherage) said I could play with Anne, I said, ‘Oh my gosh, I actually have a chance! I can reach one of my goals.’”
Deatherage said she thought the breakthrough for her team can be a rallying cry for rural schools from conferences such as the Southern Buckeye Conference.
“It gives those kids hope,” Deatherage said. “We laugh at this stage that it’s the ‘cornfields’ versus the ‘country clubs,’ but that’s very much what it has been. It lets them see that you don’t have to play from kindergarten on to make tennis work.”
Matt Sexton covers high school sports for the News Journal. Follow him on Twitter @bymattsexton.