MARION -- The season has had its ups and downs for the Marion High School girls tennis team, but the Lady Wildcats were feeling great Wednesday after beating Centralia, 5-4, for back-to-back wins on consecutive nights at the Crisp Sports Complex.
On Tuesday, Marion rolled to a 9-0 win over Mt. Vernon also at the home courts.
"We really needed these wins," said Marion coach Carrie Watson. "We face a lot of good teams and I don't think the girls believe they're as good as they can be. Sweeping Mt. Vernon gave us the confidence to beat Centralia."
"It was a nail-biter, but we did it."
Nails were bitten due to a straight split in singles that put the pressure on the doubles matches.
Centralia's Michelle Lynch had a lot to do with that, as she put Marion's top singles player Nicole Szidik in a hole with a 6-4 win, only to see Szidik blast to a 6-0 win in the second. But the tiebreaker went to Lynch by a 10-7 score.
Centralia also picked up wins in the middle two slots, but Marion got singles wins from Ana Cuartas, Sophia Arnold and Paula Diederich for the 3-3 split with usual No. 3 player Margaux Bruce gone to a cross country meet.
In doubles, the tension stayed tight as Marion's Kelsey Watson and Diederich won 6-2, 2-6, 10-5, but the Annies handed Arnold and Paige Newlin a loss at No. 3 to keep it tied.
But on the No. 1 court, Szidik and Cuartas rallied for a 6-3, 2-6, 10-4 victory to clinch the team win.
"Centralia was really young last year and this year they're much more polished," Carrie Watson said. "Centralia is always tough to beat. All of our conference schools are tough to beat. And when you can beat them, you take it."
In Tuesday's match against Mt. Vernon, Szidik was a 6-4, 6-3 winner over Priyanka Kaushal; Cuartas rolled to a 6-0, 6-3 win over Cammy Conley; Graham swept Lindsey Lehman 6-2, 6-2; Bruce cruised to a 6-2, 6-3 win over Samantha Montgomery; Kelsey Watson downed Emma Maxxy 6-3, 6-3; and Arnold beat Carlie Barban 6-1, 6-1.
"A fantastic win," a relieved Carrie Watson said. "We needed this win so much. We swept in singles and did not have to rely on our doubles. It made us more relaxed going into doubles.
"Every member stepped up and played their best match of the season thus far."
In doubles, Szidik and Bruce teamed up for a 6-1, 6-4 win over Kaushal and Conley; Kelsey Watson and Diederich were 6-3, 6-3 winners over Lehman and Maxey; and Arnold and Newlin held off Montgomery and Barba 7-5, 6-2.
Marion's team record moved to 6-5 after the two wins.
The Lady Wildcats play at Benton on Thursday and at Fairfield's tournament on Saturday.