The girls tennis players from Myers Park High didn’t want to experience heartbreak for a third straight season and played like it while rallying to a 5-4 victory against Green Hope.
Green Hope was playing in its first state championship, but the Mustangs were playing in their third straight title, having finished runner-up two straight years to Green Hope’s crosstown rival Panther Creek.
The experience was an advantage for Myers Park (21-0), which didn’t get flustered after falling behind 3-0 halfway through singles. Green Hope (20-2), which had just one senior – and three freshmen – in its lineup, dropped the next three singles matches to force doubles. It was the first time doubles had been needed in the 4A title since 2011.
Myers Park won its first 4A title -- and Mecklenburg County’s first -- since 2008. Myers Park had lost in its last four straight finals appearances before Saturday.
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All year long, Green Hope’s strength had been in its lower matches.
When it lost 10-5 at No. 3 doubles, it took away one of Green Hope’s expected victories. Another one had come earlier when undefeated No. 6 singles player Reilly Major fell 6-4, 7-5 to Myers Park’s Halle Futch.
The No. 2 doubles team of Katie Andreini and Anna Rico won 10-2 for the Falcons, and all eyes turned to No. 1 doubles.
Myers Park’s Leah Wallihan and Serena Evans made a furious rally to win 10-6 and clinch the state championship.
In other singles matches, Green Hope No. 1 Ana Horvat lost 6-4, 6-2 to Maddie Weber, No. 2 Cynthia Xiao lost 6-4, 6-0 to Wallihan, No. 3 Andreini defeated Evans 6-4, 6-3, No. 4 Rico defeated Emily Holderness 6-2, 6-1 and No. 5 Gray beat Katie Soden 6-3, 6-0.