It’s not often a team tennis match final score is closer than indicated as in football, basketball or other sports. But that’s what happened in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 3A girls state team tennis final Sunday at Elon University.
After singles play finished with Marvin Ridge leading Union Pines 4-2, the trailing Vikings (15-2) were within range of sweeping three doubles matches that would have accounted for a 5-4 comeback victory.
But Marvin Ridge (17-3) pulled out a 10-8 win at No. 3 doubles to clinch a 5-2 team victory over the 4A East Regional champions before close battles as No. 1 and No. 2 doubles mattered.
“We just kept playing hard,” Union Pines sophomore Hailey Haymore said. “We knew we could do it (in doubles).”
Marvin Ridge’s No. 3 doubles team of Ainsley Zubrinsky and Nina Vanblarcom won 10-5 for the clinching fifth point. In team tennis, doubles are one set to 10 points.
At the time, Haymore and senior Mary Beth Jackson, the 3A state individual tournament doubles champions, lead 9-6 and were about to record a third team point. At No. 2 doubles, junior Julianne Hall and senior Megan Smith were within range of a win, trailing 7-8.
The nearly four-hour competition started with Marvin Ridge jumping out to a 2-0 singles lead before Smith won at No. 4, 6-4, 6-2, to make it 2-1. The Mavericks pushed their team lead to 3-1, but Haymore won, 6-3, 6-4, at No. 2 for a 3-2 deficit. A win from Vanblarcom gave the Mavericks their 4-2 lead.
It was Union Pines’ first trip to the state final under veteran coach John Frye since a runner-up finish in 2009.
“We wanted to win it for him,” Haymore said. “He’s retired from teaching, but we want to win a state title for him before he retires from coaching.”