GREENVILLE – The N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association Class 1A girls state tennis championship was a battle of unbeaten teams on Saturday, Oct. 31.
But only one would finish the year with an unblemished record, and Lawrence Academy came up just short in its bid for a title for the second straight year.
The Oakwood School girls tennis team finished 11-0 overall with a hard-fought, 5-3 triumph over the previously-unbeaten Warriors (10-1) at home.
Oakwood’s girls, which won the program’s first state title (the boys have captured three titles), were pushed by the Warriors (10-1) in the final.
Oakwood won two of three doubles matches to take a 2-1 advantage going into singles. With each team recording two singles victories, the Eagles still held a 4-3 lead.
Fernanda Oliva Romero, Oakwood’s No. 4 singles player, went to a third-set tiebreaker with LA’s Annie Hayes Trowell before emerging with a 6-2, 4-6, 11-9 win – sealing the state championship.
It so happened that just a few feet away, Lawrence Academy’s No. 6 singles, Addie Phelps, was leading Whitney Moore 7-5, 5-1 and was just four points away from a win when the match was stopped following Romero’s victory.
“Our girls fought hard and I am very proud of them,” said LA head coach Lee Hoffman. “Both teams played well and it just came down to a couple of points.
“Addie was winning her match when Annie Hayes’ match ended, so who knows what would have happened if the tiebreaker had gone a little longer and Addie had won her match,” he added.
The third set tiebreaker between Romero and Trowell went back and forth until a return by Romero gave her the advantage, and a long return by Trowell on point 20 sealed the match and championship for the Eagles.
The match proved closer due to a pair of tiebreaking wins in singles by Lawrence Academy’s No. 3 singles (Perris Clayton, who defeated Ellie Osborne 0-6, 6-1, 10-8) and No. 5 singles (Lucy Spruill, who defeated Noor Ali 6-4, 4-6, 10-4).
“Getting those tiebreaking wins gave us a chance,” Hoffman said.
Oakwood started strong in doubles when the No. 1 team of seniors Lily Aranyos and Osborne defeated Emma Cobb and Isabella Spruill 8-1, and the No. 2 duo of Romero and Michela Robinette eased past Clayton and Trowell 8-1.
The Warriors closed the gap with a victory at No. 3 doubles, as Lucy Spruill and Phelps edged Ali and Cambelle Uveges by an 8-5 score.
The Eagles regained momentum with wins by No. 1 singles (Aranyos over Cobb 6-0, 6-0) and No. 2 singles (Robinette over Isabella Spruill 6-0, 6-1).
The two tiebreak wins by Lawrence Academy meant either one of the last two matches on the court would decide it all.
Lawrence advanced to the state finals with a 5-2 win over Greenfield on Tuesday (Oct. 27). Oakwood advanced with a 9-0 win over defending champion Kerr-Vance Academy.