CAYCE, SC — — Led by senior Ansley Speaks, Mauldin defeated Dutch Fork 6-0 to secure its third consecutive Class 4A girls tennis state title in its fifth consecutive championship match and finished the season undefeated.
The Silver Foxes knew what they were up against heading into Saturday’s match at the Cayce Tennis and Fitness Center at Otarre Pointe.
“I knew it was going to be tough because they’re a strong team with older kids who are more developed,” coach Gina Hilts said.
“I told them to just play their game because you can’t be mad if you lose to a team like that if you gave them your best game,” she said.
At No. 1 singles, eighth grader Lauren Joch faced down Furman-bound Ansley Speaks.
“Coming out to state is great, but I was nervous to play someone like Ansley,” Joch said. “I knew to even be close I was going to have top play an excellent game.”
Joch fell 6-1, 6-2 and Speaks finished her high school career with a 185-20 record.
Hilts said she knew Joch’s nerves could handle the big matchup.
“She got to compete against people that are bigger than her all season, but mentally she handles it very well,” Hilts said. “She’s very strong.”
Mauldin shut down the courts one by one, winning all but the No. 2 doubles match in straight sets.
Dutch Fork’s team of Bailey Shealy and Maddie Campanella started off strong with a 6-3 first-set win. But Haley Behal and Alex Patton rallied to take the second set 6-3, and the Silver Foxes’ errant shots on the final points of the tie-break helped Mauldin to close it out 12-10.
Hilts said the state final match should provide some seasoning for the Silver Foxes and hoped they would add to it with a busy offseason.
“I hope my girls will keep the rackets in their hands this offseason and in the summer,” she said.
Singles: Ansley Speaks (M) d. Lauren Joch, 6-1, 6-2; Sydney Patton (M) d. Allison Walsh, 6-0, 6-3; Lexi Stewart (M) d. Anna Maria Gardiner, 6-0, 6-1; Jordan Paul (M) d. Caroline Sloop, 6-3, 6-2; Madeline Weir (M) d. Carter Cowsert, 6-0, 6-3. Doubles: Hayley Behal/Alex Patton (M) d. Bailey Shealy/Maddie Campanella, 3-6, 6-3 (12-10).