BUCKTOWN >> It’s a role she doesn’t necessarily relish.
But when called on to fill it, Jacey Caplan is proving to be equal to the task.
Caplan found herself with the heavy burden of determining whether Owen J. Roberts would win Thursday’s Pioneer Athletic Conference match with Spring-Ford. The contest was tied 3-3 while Caplan and the Rams’ Jessica Leach were dueling at third singles, the visitors erasing the Wildcats’ early 3-1 lead by taking two doubles pairings.
“It’s very rough,” the OJR sophomore said after securing the clincher, a 7-5, 6-2 win over Leach. “I get nervous. I tried to not get too tense.”
In contrast to last year’s matchup of the two third-singles performers — one where Caplan had to go three sets, noting “every game went to deuce” — she was more in control this time around. Following the tighter first set, Caplan had 3-0 and 4-1 leads on Leach prior to winning two of the next three games.
It stemmed the run Spring-Ford had going in the doubles bracket and this season as the loss was the Rams’ first of the league season, falling 9-1. The one loss is equal to Owen J. Roberts and Methacton
The Rams won at the second, third and fourth spots to make a contest of it, taking all in straight sets. Sonal Tyagi and Bianca Caresosa won 6-1, 6-1 over OJR’s Chloe Doyle and Lauren Fisher, Camryn Jones and Elise DiGuiseppe added a 6-1, 6-4 verdict against Erica Gratton and Jen Weston, and Lauren Ostermann and Maddy Morris came up with a 6-3, 6-2 triumph over Julia Brennan and Leeann Dempsey.
“I kind of found out, as it went on, it was coming down to me,” Caplan said. “I tried to keep the ball consistent and stay as calm as I could.”
Owen J. got off to a fast start courtesy of the Lee sisters, who were the top part of Roberts’ singles sweep. Sophomore Elaina Lee checked in with a 6-0, 6-3 victory over Kathryn Alvarez at second singles, followed by senior Meredith Lee’s 6-2, 6-2 win over Tori Alexander.
In dispatching Alexander, the elder Lee, the reigning Pioneer Athletic Conference champion and a two-time PIAA Tournament qualifier, focused on one aspect of the Ram sophomore’s game.
“She has a huge forehand,” Meredith noted. “I wanted to keep the ball away from her forehand. She has a pretty big serve.”
Owen J.’s lone success in doubles play came from its first team of Camryn Gelting and Vidisha Pandey, who topped the Rams’ Caitlin Hart/Riley Burke tandem 6-1, 6-2. That, and Elaina’s win at second singles, emerged as Roberts’ best individual showings while helping set the tone for Owen J’s rebound from Wednesday’s 4-3 loss to Methacton.
The match’s outcome could result in a unique situation within the PAC.
The Wildcats and Rams, along with the Warriors, each have one loss. Spring-Ford won its match with Methacton during the season 6-1, creating a circular result with Owen J. losing to the Warriors Wednesday and beating the Rams Thursday.
The possibility of a three-way tie for first place is one being considered, as well as the PAC’s criteria for breaking ties. Owen J. athletic director Ralph Bretz indicated he will be researching the league’s by-laws to determine what the tiebreaking standards are.