The Mathews High School girls’ tennis team won the Region A title, defeating Rappahannock, 5-4, last Thursday to advance to this weekend’s state tournament at Radford University.
"This has been my toughest greatest victory in all of my nine years of coaching," said MHS head coach LaDonna Crain. "I have never had a team come together and battle so hard for the win. I am so very proud of each and every one of them. I have been coaching these girls since the eighth grade and they have grown up with my twins. I have six seniors on the team, including my twins, and I am really going to miss them." Crain has taken the MHS girls to the state championships eight out of the nine years that she has coached.
Last Thursday’s match at the Howard Mast Tennis Center in Suffolk was a grueling affair that came down to the final doubles match to determine who would take the regional title. Six of the nine matches went into three sets. The team was on the courts from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in 90+ degrees.
The first five singles matches went onto the court to start the match. All five girls won their first set and the coaches and players felt a sigh of relief thinking they would take the win with little trouble. However, Rappahannock turned up the heat and started to play much stronger, with the Devils’ three-, four- and five-seed players losing their next sets. Aly Collins played strong and took no mercy to defeat Megan Knight, 6-1, 6-2. Also playing very well using lots of topspin, number two Amy Collins defeated Abby Goszka, 6-2, 6-4
Leanne Moughon at number three really stepped up her game winning the first set, 6-3, but then lost the second set, 0-6. Moughon then lost the third set, 5-7, with a very strong fight. "It was the best I have ever seen Leanne play," Crain said. "I am very proud of her. She played smart, worked hard and never gave up."
At number four, Mercedes Wells also had a three-set match. Wells won her first set 6-0, but then lost the second set, 4-6, to Amanda Fallin. Wells battled hard in the third set but could not pull off the win, losing 3-6. With the team score 2-2, the girls went over to Kate van Emmerik’s match to cheer her on to victory. She won the first set, 6-4, against Emily Gay, but lost the second set in a tie-breaker 6-6 (2-7). Van Emmerik played very consistent and patient tennis, pulling off the win in the third set, 6-3.