Cathedral’s Dooley edges Trinity’s Smith in area showdown

Published 12:04 am Wednesday, April 12, 2017

It’s hard to find a friendship any more sincere than that between Cathedral High School’s Lessley Dooley and Trinity Episcopal’s Alli Smith, and it’s even harder to play a match any closer than the two did Tuesday afternoon.

After the pair traded the first two sets, a ten-point tiebreaker left Dooley victorious, 3-6, 7-6, 1-0, pushing Cathedral (8-2) over the Saints, 5-4.

“Me and Alli are really great friends, and that’s why it is so hard to play her,” Dooley said. “She is one of the strongest people I know and one of the best tennis players I have played against.”

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Dooley defeated the opposing senior in the tiebreaker, 11-9, after matching up with Smith on six occasions.

Smith had an opportunity to win on a match point of her own, but fell short leaving Dooley with the chance to finish.

“I’m proud because she did really well and she plays hard,” Trinity coach Noreen Pyron said. “(My players) need to learn how to close and concentrate on that.”

The match started at an even 3-3, but after Smith won the next three games to take the first set, Dooley admitted she became a little frustrated.

“When I start losing I get down on myself,” she said. “I just knew I had to get myself together, and then I could focus on what she was doing to follow through.”

Dooley came back strong to start the second and took a 2-1 lead by nailing a majority of her overhand serves. Smith kept a calm nature, however, eventually sending the set into a seven-point tiebreaker after three more ties.

Cathedral coach Beth Foster said the win was just what Dooley needed after losing her previous two matches to well-rounded players.

“There wasn’t taking off any speed for either one of them,” she said. “It was nerve wracking, and I was holding my breath, but once she finally smiles you know she’ll be OK. To get a win really helps her confidence.”

Foster hopes the momentum will carry over into the Green Wave’s final regular season match vs. ACCS at 4 p.m. on April 25.

“It’ll really help us if we win that one,” she said. “We want to be seeded (in district) for the easy games.”

Trinity (5-1) will play again vs. Franklin Academy at 1 p.m. today at the Vidalia Recreation Courts.