It took four hours of intense play, but Dutch Fork finally dispatched archrival Irmo on Tuesday to wrap up the Region 5-4A girls tennis championship. It was the second marathon, 4-3 win this season for the Silver Foxes over the Yellow Jackets after the teams split two 4-3 decisions last season.
“I’m sure the girls were nervous going into this match, but all I wanted for them to do was play their best and leave it all out on the court,” said second-year DF coach Julie Martin. “And that’s just what they did. It’s safe to say that we’re all ecstatic about winning the region championship.”
Dutch Fork seemingly had a shot at winning in six matches, instead of seven, when Marelli Sanchez convincingly beat Irmo’s Mary Chris Satterthwaite 6-2, 6-1 at No. 1 singles. Satterthwaite prevailed in the first meeting of the teams on Sept. 24. But the hoped-for 4-2 verdict went by the boards when Irmo’s Ashley Hawkins rallied from a first set loss to defeat DF’s Liz Watson at No. 2 singles when they were the last players in the regular starting lineup still on the court. Watson was the winner in the prior encounter with Hawkins.
That result forced the Silver Foxes and Yellow Jackets to the optional No. 1 double phases for the fourth time in a row.
Here, Dutch Fork finally settled the issue with a 7-6, 6-4 win by Sanchez and Watson over Satterthwaite and Hawkins.
“When we were putting the team together in August we thought we had a shot at winning the region and having a golden season,” said Martin. “We saw some glimmers when we beat Irmo and Lexington in the first half. They are two quality teams and we gained a lot of confidence when we beat them. Once again there was little margin of error, and we’re thrilled that we were able to get the job done.”
Aside from the flip-flop of outcomes at No. 1 and No. 2 singles, the results were the same as in the first meeting last month. Dutch Fork received wins by Savannah Savage at No. 3 singles and Ali Savage at No. 5 singles, while Irmo picked up wins by Mavina Guram at No. 4 singles and the doubles team of sisters Erin and Ivey Westerkam at No. 2 doubles.
Dutch Fork closed the regular season with a 16-0 record, while Irmo dropped to 13-2 with one non-region match left in the regular season.
“Both of these matches (Dutch Fork) could have gone either way,” said Yellow Jackets coach Suzanne Gray. “I expected to pull the first one out and this one, too, but that’s OK. That’s competition, and it’s only going to help us in the playoffs.”