As she adjusts to her role at third singles on the Upper Arlington High School girls tennis team, Paige Murphy is finding it can take her a long time to get where she's going.

As she adjusts to her role at third singles on the Upper Arlington High School girls tennis team, Paige Murphy is finding it can take her a long time to get where she's going.

Murphy outlasted Cailey Easdale 2-6, 6-1, 6-2 as the Bears beat Dublin Jerome 3-2 on Sept. 11 in an OTCA Division I tournament match, advancing to a district semifinal to face Pickerington North, Gahanna or Grove City.

"I think in that first set I tried to go for too much," Murphy said. "After that first set, I went up to my coach and said, 'I'm going to make this match last as long as possible.' Usually when you're down you want to draw the match out as long as possible. I made each point as long as I could and kept the ball in play. The match turned around pretty quickly."

"Paige won the Jerome match for us," coach Shaun Stamps said. "She got beaten badly in that first set, but she came back and fought for the second and third sets. I think she gained a lot of confidence."

The Celtics defeated UA 3-2 in a district final last year, ending UA's 20-year streak of reaching state. Jerome went on to lose to Rocky River Magnificat 3-2 in the state final.

"It meant a lot to beat them," Murphy said. "After what happened last year, we wanted to get past them but we still have a few more steps to take to get back to the state team tournament."

In a stretch from Sept. 4-11, the Bears defeated Lexington, Massillon Jackson, Dayton Chaminade-Julienne and Jerome, all 3-2.

"Playing for Upper Arlington, you know always have a target on your back,' Murphy said. "We've been grinding through all these matches. It seems like you're always on the edge of your seat.

"The nice thing is we have a lot of depth. Obviously we have (Niki Flower) at first singles, but we try to move around the girls around in singles and doubles. This team is very young with Stacey being the only senior, but they've all stepped up and we've played very consistently."

Murphy (third singles) and Flower (first) captured championships last Saturday at the Lexington Invitational as UA tied Massillon Jackson for first with 28 points.

UA will play Saturday in the OCC-Central Division tournament at Hilliard Davidson. With duals left against Davidson and Dublin Coffman, the Bears were 5-0 and had lost just one set. They won the OCC-Buckeye last year at 5-0 with 57 points.

"We aren't going to take any team for granted," Stamps said. "We'll have faced every team at least once before the tournament, but every team will be looking to get at least one court off of us. The tough matches and the tournaments are getting us ready for the individual and team state tournaments."

At a glance

Below are the recent results and coming schedule for Upper Arlington girls tennis team:

*Sept. 2 -- Defeated Central Crossing 5-0

Sept. 4 -- Def. Lexington 3-2

Sept. 6 -- Def. Massillon Jackson 3-2; def. Centerville 4-1

*Sept. 9 -- Def. Westland 5-0

Sept. 10 -- Def. Dayton Chaminade-Julienne 3-2

Sept. 11 -- Def. Dublin Jerome 3-2 in OTCA Division I district quarterfinal

*Sept. 16 -- Match vs. Hilliard Davidson postponed. No makeup date has been set.

Sept. 17 -- Match at Columbus Academy postponed. No makeup date has been set.

Last Saturday -- Tied Massillon Jackson for first (28) in eight-team Lexington Invitational. Niki Flower (first singles) and Paige Murphy (third singles) finished first.

*Last Tuesday -- Played Dublin Coffman

Today -- At Pickerington Central

*Saturday -- At OCC-Central tournament at Davidson

Of note: The Bears were 13-0 overall and 5-0 in the OCC-Central before last Tuesday.

*OCC-Central match