High School Sports

Wando takes Lower State tennis

SUMTER - Like many perfect tennis teams before them, the Dutch Fork High Silver Foxes saw their winning streak halted by a team that's done nothing but win for nearly six years.

Five-time defending Class 4A champion Wando easily won three matches and battled to win three more to top Dutch Fork 6-0 Friday in the Class 4A Lower State final at the Palmetto Tennis Center.

Wando extended its winning streak to 98 matches while handing Dutch Fork (19-1) its first loss of this season. While the Warriors (23-0) got dominating wins in Nos. 2, 3 and 4 singles, they needed third-set tiebreakers to complete the sweep.

"It was a whole lot closer than the score was," Wando coach Becky Williamson said.

Wando bolted into the lead during singles play with the help of two former Midlands players.

At No. 2 singles, former Lexington High player Clair Larkin beat Dutch Fork's Liz Watson 6-1, 6-0.

At No. 3 singles, former A.C. Flora and Hammond player Alexis Prickett blitzed Dutch Fork's Savannah Savage 6-0, 6-0.

Larkin helped Lexington reach the 4A Lower State final last year before Wando ended the Wildcats season. Her family moved to Wando this year.

Prickett, who led Hammond to a pair of SCISA state final appearances (with one win) in 2006 and 2007, is in her first season playing with Wando after sitting out of high school tennis in 2008.

At No. 4 singles, Catherine Martin dispatched Layla Asghari 6-2, 6-1.

"I expected my Nos. 2, 3 and 4 to come through," Williamson said. "And they did. I knew it would be close at 1, 5 and 2 (doubles). And it was."

Playing on the main court, Dutch Fork's Mareli Sanchez and Wando's Corin Hallman played a tight match at No. 1 singles.

Hallman, a senior, needed a tiebreaker to take the first set 7-6 before Sanchez, a sophomore, won the second set 6-2. Hallman had just enough to win the third-set tiebreaker 10-8 and take the match.

"It was close," Sanchez said. "Just a few points I should have done some things differently. But that's OK. I learn from mistakes, and it was a good match."

At No. 5 singles, Wando seventh-grader Melanie Allen dropped the first set 6-3 to Dutch Fork sophomore Ali Savage. But Allen rallied to win the second set 6-3 and the tiebreaker 10-6.

That left No. 2 doubles, where Wando's Kayla Heller and Alex Klein won the first set 7-6. Taylor Bland and Jillian Cothran forced the tiebreaker with a 6-3 second-set win,

The tiebreaker was knotted at 3 when Wando flexed its muscle. Heller and Klein won five of the next six points on the way to a 10-5 win.

While the outcome was not what Dutch Fork coach Julie Martin wanted, she appreciated the spunk her team showed against the Warriors.

"I am so proud of these girls," Martin said. "They have played an incredible season and have come together beautifully. They were right there in it. We were literally points away from being tied 3-3 and going into (No. 1 doubles). The score doesn't reflect how well they played and how much heart they left out on the court."

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