COLUMBIA -- Another state tennis championship was there for the taking by the Wando girls on a cold and windy Saturday morning.
But it didn't happen as Mauldin (19-0) prevailed for the second straight year against the Warriors (18-3) in the Class AAAA state final, 4-2, at the new 23-court Cayce Tennis and Fitness Center.
With senior Alex Stein holding a 6-2, 5-1 lead in No. 3 singles, the chances of Wando starting a new winning streak in state titles looked promising before Stein's game collapsed in a 2-6, 7-6, 10-3 loss to Mauldin freshman Sydney Patton. That ended the Warriors' hopes and left Wando's No. 1 doubles team of Catherine Martin and Melanie Allen on the sidelines.
Freshman Anne Stuart Pride had kept the Warriors' hopes alive with a 6-4, 1-6, 10-5 victory at No. 5 singles over Mauldin senior Katelyn Hegarty. When Wando's No. 2 doubles team of Legare Passailaigue and Courtney Lopresti fell and was followed by the loss at No. 3 singles, the Warriors' dream of reliving the glory days of six straight state titles that ended last year was shattered.
Allen, a talented sophomore playing in her third state final, posted a convincing 6-4, 6-1 win at No. 2, after the big-hitting Martin had no answer for the court savvy and consistency of talented Mauldin junior Ansley Speaks, who gave up only two games in her fifth state final appearance.
Nevertheless, it was an outstanding season for first-year coach Tyler Davis and Wando as the Warriors advanced to their eighth consecutive state final, and fifth in a row against Mauldin.
"We came out very strong at Nos. 2, 3, 4 and 5 singles and No. 2 doubles," Davis said. "We let it slip away. I knew we would have to win at Nos. 2 and 3 and find a win at Nos. 4 or 5 or No. 2 doubles to beat them."
The plan almost worked.
"I don't think that early in the season our girls believed they could make a match out of it, but they did. I am very proud of the way we played," Davis said.
MAULDIN 4, WANDO 2
Singles: Ansley Speaks (M) def. Catherine Martin, 6-1, 6-1; Melanie Allen (W) def. Haley Elliott, 6-4, 6-1; Sydney Patton (M) def. Alex Stein, 2-6, 7-6, 10-3; Lexi Stewart (M) def. Caroline Hairfield, 6-4, 6-0; Anne Stuart Pride (W) def. Katelyn Hegarty, 6-4, 1-6, 10-5.
Doubles: Hayley Behal/Alex Patton (M) def. Legare Passailaigue/Courtney Lopresti, 6-4, 6-1.