With the roar of a construction vehicle drowning out the sound of each forehand, empty courts piling up around her and darkness closing in fast, Lawrence High senior Jamie Jarrett jumped onto the court for her No. 7 singles match against Manhattan High’s Maddie Johnson.
The reason? Jarrett was not desperate to get the match over with. She couldn’t wait to get started.
“I really wasn’t thinking about any of that stuff,” Jarrett said. “I was just focused on bringing some energy to the court and getting a win.”
That she did, twice, in fact. Not bad for her first day back from a stress fracture that kept her sidelined for three weeks.
Despite Jarrett’s two victories — 8-5 in her singles match and 8-4 in a doubles match in which she teamed with senior Taylor Abbott in victory — the Lions dropped Thursday’s dual to Manhattan High, 6-5.
The loss was just the second of the season for LHS as a team, which fell to Manhattan, 5-4, in a similarly close showdown a season ago.
“We were hoping to get revenge on them today,” LHS coach Steve Hudson said. “But even though we didn’t win, we played pretty well.”
Jordan Payne and Morgan Manger joined Jarrett in snagging singles victories. Taylor Eubanks and Bailey Frei picked up the Lions’ other point, winning their No. 2 doubles match, 8-3.
For Frei, who joined the varsity squad when Jarrett went down, watching the team’s fiery leader back in action was a wonderful sight.
“I like seeing her back out there,” Frei said. “She encourages us the whole time, even when she’s playing.”
That never stopped during Jarrett’s three weeks away from competition. She was at every practice, cheered at every match and remained a team leader even with a protective boot covering her right foot.
She shed the boot and was cleared to play on Wednesday. A day later, she was running around like nothing was wrong.
“It just felt great to move again,” Jarrett said. “I’m not really a sitting person.”
Her movements, some sharp and crisp, others a bit rusty, were delightful for Hudson to see, as well.
“It’s nice to have one of our big guns back out there,” he said. “She has the kind of firepower that no one else on our team has.”
As for how the injury held up during Jarrett’s two matches: “There’s some pain,” she said. “But I kind of like that because it means I’m getting stronger and not weaker.”
Finally at full strength, the Lions (7-2) will now turn their attention to Monday’s showdown dual against Free State High. That meet is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. at FSHS.