Last year, Cardinal Gibbons’ Jenna Knors and Lizzie Galush came up one victory short of a doubles title at the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A girls tennis championships.
There would be no such repeat Saturday at Millbrook Exchange Park, as Knors and Galush rolled to a state title with a 6-1, 6-2 victory over the Charlotte Catholic pair of Megan Leonard and Rose Kenny.
It was the second state title for both Knors and Galush, though their first as a team.
Galush teamed up with Knors’ older sister Devin to win the 2013 3A doubles title, and the following year Jenna teamed with Devin to win the 3A doubles title.
Last year, Knors and Galush lost in the 4A doubles final, 6-3, 6-2, to four-time state champions Sammi Smith and Jordan Strickland of Panther Creek.
“For me, being a senior I was really determined to win it this year,” Galush said.
Added Knors: “I thought we grew from last year as a team.”
In singles competition, South Mecklenburg freshman Jenna Thompson defeated Lake Norman senior Lauren Gish, 6-0, 6-1 for her first state title.
Galush and Knors, who had advanced to the doubles final with a 6-2, 6-4 semifinal victory over Sanderson’s Sibel Tanik and Sophia Anthony earlier Saturday, seized control early in the championship final.
They broke Leonard’s serve en route to a 3-0 lead in the first set. In the second set, a service break by the Leonard-Kenny team knotted the score at 2, but the Galush-Knors team answered right back with a break and eventually closed out the victory with a smash by Knors.
The victory completed an 18-2 season for the pair, and gave them a 38-4 career record as a team in varsity competition.
“They played great last year as a team and I think losing in the finals, it made it a goal to get back here and win this year,” Cardinal Gibbons coach Andrew Tuttle said. “It wasn’t without its ups and downs this year … but once they got to the postseason I think they played their best tennis of the season.”
Leonard and Kenny had reached the final with a 6-2, 7-5 win over Myers Park’s Katie Soden and Emily Holderness.
Thompson was extremely impressive in winning the first of what could be multiple state singles titles.
The freshman, in her first year of varsity competition after spending last year at this time concentrating on USTA junior tournaments, lost just eight games over her four matches in the state tournament.
“I think I played better than I have in a while, but I played well (Saturday),” said Thompson, who defeated Panther Creek’s Bella Steffen, 6-2, 6-1, in the semifinals. “I was nervous going into the final, but the other matches I felt pretty good. I just tried my best and gave it my all.”
Gish, a 4A semifinalist the previous two years, defeated last year’s 4A runner-up Amanda Cyr of Panther Creek, 6-4, 7-6 (10-4) in the semifinals.