Sam Calais and Dutch Fork eyed their first Class 5A state tennis championship, and second state title in three years.
Calais, the senior No. 1 player for the Silver Foxes, was the last player to come off the courts at the Cayce Tennis Center Saturday. While she walked off with a 6-4, 6-7 (10-4) victory over Rock Hill’s Robin Alston, the Bearcats won the rest of matches for a 5-1 win for the title.
“Overall, we had a good season,” Calais said. “Rock Hill is just a tough team, and they just played better than us today.”
Calais, No. 2 player Alison Walsh, and No. 3 Megan Barkley took their opponents to a third set. While Calais came through for the Silver Foxes, Rock Hill’s Anna Sharp and DeeDee Alston clinched the win with victories.
The Silver Foxes (16-4) lost several seniors after winning the 4A title in 2014, and spent the next year relying on younger players.
“To get back here in two years, I was really pleased,” Dutch Fork coach Gina Hilts said. “I’m very proud of the way the girls worked hard to get back here. They played their hearts out.”
Falling in the state championship was a disappointment for Calais, but Hilts said her top player has nothing to be ashamed of.
“Sam has been at Dutch Fork for four years, and we have been to the state finals for three of those four years,” Hilts said. “She’s gone undefeated in all of her playoff matches, and three of those were state finals. That’s amazing.”
The Silver Foxes lose four starters to graduation.
“I don’t feel like leaving this season,” Calais said “We definitely accomplished a lot of our goals this season. Today, we just didn’t step up to the level we needed to play.”
Singles: Sam Calais (Dutch Fork) d. Robin Alston 6-4, 6-7 (10-4); Anna Sharpe (Rock Hill) d. Alison Walsh 6-2, 1-6 (10-3); Shakendra Alston (Rock Hill) d. Morgan Campanella 6-3, 7-5; DeeDee Alston (Rock Hill) d. Megan Barkley 7-6, 6-2 (10-7); Lillian Vyas (Rock Hill) d. Jenna Bradfute 6-2, 6-2. Doubles: Rachel Brannigan-Celine Robinson (Rock Hill) d. Sydney McGraw-Gabriella Loftin 5-7, 7-6 (10-0)