Dutch Fork sophomore Ali Savage was undeterred by the crowd that surrounded her court during the Silver Foxes' Class 4A quarterfinal tennis match against Beaufort on Tuesday.
She had no idea what had transpired on the other four singles courts. All she knew was she had battled back from a set down and an early deficit in the second set to force a third-set tiebreaker.
Savage won four of the final five points and clinched the match for Dutch Fork in the 5-1 victory against the Eagles. Savage, the No. 5 player for the Silver Foxes, defeated Charlotte Bellomy 5-7, 6-3, 10-7.
"I had no idea up until the last point who had won or who had lost," Savage said. "I was just trying to win my match to help the team. I decided to try and keep the ball in play and let her make mistakes, and she did."
Second-year Dutch Fork coach Julie Martin had confidence in Savage because she had watched her play this type of tennis all year. Even after falling behind 3-0 in the second set, Martin knew Savage was in it.
"I was here, there and everywhere, but Ali is always a very, very, very patient player," Martin said. "You can never rule Ali out until the match is over with. We kept reminding her to stay patient, keep her feet moving and keep plugging away until she came out on top."
The victory moves Dutch Fork (19-0) into the Lower State finals Friday in Sumter against Wando, a 6-0 victor against Lexington. The Warriors eliminated the Silver Foxes in last year's second round and have won five consecutive Class 4A titles.
Martin is aware of the challenge ahead, but likes her team's chances. Dutch Fork owns victories against Irmo and Lexington in the regular season, and Richland Northeast and Berkeley in the playoffs.
"Hopefully, this is one of their weaker years and I feel like this is one of our stronger years," Martin said. "We have played some of our best tennis lately. All I know is anything can happen on the court, so Friday should be interesting."
Other Dutch Fork winners were Mareli Sanchez, Savannah Savage, and Layla Asghari in singles and the doubles team of Taylor Bland and Jillian Cothran. Sanchez and Savannah Savage, Ali's older sister, won 6-0, 6-4 and 6-1, 6-0, respectively.
Asghari won in straight sets and Bland and Cothran finished off the victory with a 6-1, 6-1 victory at No. 2 doubles.
Marian Hohenwarter earned Beaufort's (18-5) point when Liz Watson had to retire in the second set with an injury.
Singles: Mareli Sanchez (DF) d. Samantha Sullivan 6-0, 6-4; Marian Hohenwarter (B) d. Liz Watson 7-6, 3-0 (ret.); Savannah Savage (DF) d. Hannah Werner 6-1, 6-0; Layla Asghari (DF) d. Chelsey Bellomy 6-4, 6-4; Ali Savage (DF) d. Charlotte Bellomy 5-7, 6-3, 10-7. Doubles: Taylor Bland/Jillian Cothran (DF) d. Anna Stoddard/Kelsey Butler 6-1, 6-1. Rec: DF 19-0; B 18-5.