It was Gate City’s day at the Region D tennis finals on Thursday at Virginia-Wise. The Blue Devils swept the girls’ and boys’ team titles as well as both doubles crowns.
The Lady Blue Devils defeated Wise Central 5-0 and the Gate City boys upended J.I. Burton 5-0 in the team championships.
Gate City’s sister duo of Rosa and Emily Smith combined for an impressive 6-0, 6-3 win over Mackenzie Lawson and Hannah Collins of Central in their doubles final.
In the championship match of the day, the Blue Devils’ John Ferguson and Luke Funkhouser rallied for a 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 win over J.I. Burton’s Tanner Crowder and Blake Pientka in boys doubles.
Rosa Smith and Ferguson added their doubles titles to the singles championships they won last week.
Gate City’s girls, the defending VHSL Group A champions, have played for the state title nine times in the past 11 years.
“We have a great tradition,” said Gate City coach Delonda Spivey. “This team has a drive to win. They are a good team, both on and off the court.”
Gate City’s boys won state titles in 2008 and ’09, but have not been back since.
“We finally found a way to get out of our district,” said Gate City coach Steve Shockley. “I think it’s wonderful for our seniors to go out as Region D champions.”
In the girls’ doubles final, Smith and Smith broke serve three times in the first set to win 6-0.
Lawson and Collins rebounded in the second and trailed 4-3 when Rosa Smith, a sophomore, stepped to the service line. She held and the Lady Blue Devils broke serve again to close out the match.
“We definitely played well together,” said Emily Smith, a freshman. “They were more aggressive in the second set but we settled down and put it away.”
“I wouldn’t want to play with anyone else,” Rosa Smith said. “We communicate so well on the court.”
Burton’s Crowder and Pientka blew through the first set on the way to a 6-3 win. Ferguson and Funkhouser came back with a 6-2 victory in the second before racing out to a 5-1 lead in the decisive third. Crowder and Pientka rallied to close the gap to 5-4, but they could get no closer.
“We got a little ahead of ourselves after winning the first set,” Crowder said. “We finished strong, but it wasn’t enough.”
“The first set wasn’t our best,” Ferguson noted. “But we knew there was still a lot of tennis left to play. We’ve matured and worked hard for this and knew we had to be patient and let the match come to us.”
The Group A tennis tournament starts next Thursday in Radford.