By Thomas Sellers Jr.
MURFREESBORO — The look of confidence quickly transformed to an expression of pain for Munford Lady Cougar Taylor Patterson.
After just winning a set 6-4 over Centennial’s Hannah Shoener last Thursday in the Class 3A Girls’ State Singles Tournament in Murfreesboro, Patterson was up 2-1 in the third and decisive set.
Then out of nowhere, the muscles in her legs tighten up forcing her to the fence of the Old Fort Park court stopping play. Patterson tried to regroup even swallowing down a pack of mustard to relieve the pain.
But by that time Shoener seized the momentum and took a 5-2 lead in the set. Despite Patterson managing a rally with her return game, Shoener was victorious and advanced.
The defeat ended the decorated career of Patterson at Munford High School.
“It feels good but I just wish I had played better today and did better here,” Patterson acknowledged. “It was both of my legs. I got cramps in both of my legs. Every time I ran it was just pain. They kept pulling me down.”
Before the cramps and after dropping the opening set, Patterson got into a groove using her return game to force Shoener into errors.
And Patterson’s serving kept the Centennial junior off balance most of the second set. Patterson and Head Coach Barry Bargery carried the strategy over into the third set with similar results.
Ahead 2-1 and looking to keep the momentum, Patterson chased a bullet off the racket of Shoener down the line pulling up lame.
Before a trainer could attend to Patterson, the set continued with Shoener jumping ahead 5-2. A point away from watching her high school career concluded, Patterson had one thought, “I didn’t want to lose.”
With her lateral movement limited and limping, Patterson fought back to make the score 5-4. But Shoener dominated the last point using her return game to make Patterson chase the tennis ball.
Patterson’s third consecutive visit ended in a round one defeat. Her presence at the State tournament last week made Munford history.
Bargery said Patterson’s record of three straight State appearances, individual wins are just pieces of the special era that came to an end in Murfreesboro. Patterson’s classmate and former doubles partner Madison Willis ushered in a four-year period of dominance by the Lady Cougars in District 14-3A and Region 7-3A.
“I just feel very fortunate to have had her and Madison,” Bargery said fighting back tears. “I couldn’t have asked for two better people and players. I just want to thank them.
“If we get a banner it will hang,” he added. “Just winning four in a row and going to Sub-State four in a row and winning four (Regionals), this year we had a little bit of pressure on us because we wanted that fourth one so bad. That was special.”
As Bargery and Patterson walked toward the official’s desk one last time as coach and player, the veteran leader of the Lady Cougars said there was one thing that will stand out about the winningest Munford Tennis player.
“Her smile,” he concluded.