The Wando girls tennis team's second major streak came to an end Saturday in Sumter at the Class AAAA state championship tennis match as Becky Williamson bowed out as the Warriors' coach in a 5-1 loss to Mauldin.
In the process of reversing the outcome after three straight losses in state finals to the Warriors (23-5), Mauldin snapped Wando's streak of six straight state titles. Earlier in the season, SCISA power Ashley Hall ended the Warriors' 107-dual match winning streak.
Williamson said goodbye after coaching the Warriors for 12 seasons. The lone significant streak still remaining for the Warriors is 11 consecutive region titles.
This title match was decided by tiebreakers. The Warriors sustained losses in three third-set match tiebreakers after winning the first set in each match.
"Our girls fought hard. They wanted to win, and it could have gone either way," Williamson said. "Mauldin played well, but we easily could have won."
All but No. 1 singles where Mauldin sophomore standout Ansley Speaks routed Wando senior Clair Larkin, 6-1, 6-0, ended in tiebreakers -- four third-set match tiebreakers and one for the second set. It was that close.
Wando won only one of the five decisive tiebreakers, and that came after Mauldin (21-0) had taken a 4-0 lead to wrap up the state championship. That was more individual match wins than the Mavericks had earned in their three previous finals against Wando combined.
The Warriors won only at No. 4 singles where junior Alex Klein posted a 1-6, 6-3, 10-8 victory over Mauldin's Sydney Patton as Klein completed a once-beaten personal season.
After Speaks' win staked Mauldin to a 1-0 lead, junior Caroline Hairfield (No. 5) and sophomore Catherine Martin (No. 2) won their opening sets before suffering losses in match tiebreakers to put the Warriors' long streak in jeopardy. Mauldin sophomore Lexie Stewart then defeated eighth-grader Melanie Allen, 6-3, 7-6 (8), at No. 3 to officially end the Wando streak.
Even Wando's previously unbeaten No. 2 doubles pair of junior Courtney Lopresti and senior Kayla Heller saw its 14-match winning streak end after the team match had been decided. Of course, that loss also came in a match tiebreaker after Wando had taken the first set.
"I knew Clair's match was going to be tough. Speaks is real good," Williamson said after seeing Speaks win at No. 1 in the third straight state title match.
"I was surprised that our doubles lost, but I knew Mauldin had a good No. 2 doubles team. I also thought Melanie and Caroline would win. But everybody played well. There were a lot of long rallies."
Singles: Ansley Speaks (M) def. Clair Larkin, 6-1, 6-0; Haley Elliott (M) def. Catherine Martin, 4-6, 7-5, 10-4; Lexie Stewart (M) def. Melanie Allen, 6-3, 7-6 (8); Alex Klein (W) def. Sydney Patton, 1-6, 6-3, 10-8; Molly Walsh (M) def. Caroline Hairfield, 1-6, 6-3, 10-3.
Doubles: Haley Behal/Alex Patton (M) def. Courtney Lopresti/Kayla Heller, 6-7 (2), 6-4, 10-5.
Reach James Beck at email@example.com.
See his columns on pro tennis at ubitennis.com/english.
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