Gate City doubles teams denied in Group A finals

George Thwaites • Jun 8, 2013 at 8:36 PM

RADFORD, Va. — In the final day of VHSL state tournament action at Radford University’s Dedmon Center sports complex, it was doubles or nothing for Gate City tennis.

Nothing, as it all turned out.

Wilson Memorial’s Miles Harnad and Connor Spotts held off a valiant effort by Gate City’s John Ferguson and Luke Funkhouser 7-6 (7-2), 7-5 in Saturday’s Group A boys doubles tournament finals.

On the girls’ side, George Mason’s Kynadi and Corrinton Mauney handed the Lady Blue Devils’ Rosa and Emily Smith a 6-2, 6-2 defeat in the Group A doubles championship match.

The Mauney sisters (pronounced “moonie”) had contributed earlier to the Lady Mustangs’ 5-3 win over Radford for the state team tournament championship. By the time they were rested up for the start of the doubles finals, it was past 5 p.m. — making it the very last tennis match of the 2013 Spring Jubilee.

The Smiths had played the Mauneys to a tiebreaker in the second set of Friday’s team meeting at No. 1 doubles. But the Gate City girls just couldn’t seem to get any traction on Saturday.

By the time it was over, Gate City coach Delonda Spivey was emotionally drained and ready to return home.

“It was like we couldn’t seem to get our A-game going this week. And if you don’t have it coming against a team like that, then you are going to struggle,” said a tired Spivey, who coached matches in Blacksburg, Roanoke and finally Radford during the course of this year’s state tourney.

“They got their second wind and they were playing very strong at the net. Very strong volleys. They executed and put away every ball they needed to.”

The defending team state champion Lady Blue Devils lost to the eventual state champs Friday in an indoor tennis facility in Roanoke. The Gate City boys hadn’t been to the state since 2009 but also found themselves eliminated Friday by the eventual state champs. George Mason completed the Mustang team sweep, beating Glenvar 6-0.

Ferguson won the state singles championship at Virginia Tech’s Burrows-Burleson Complex on Thursday and had hoped that he and doubles partner Funkhouser could take home another gold before all the fun ended.

Facing an aggressive net game by the Green Hornets tandem, the Gate City duo tried to force their opponents back where the Blue Devils’ superior groundstrokes could shine. Lobs late in the match did some good, but it was too little, too late.

“They gave everything they had. They worked well as a team and played extremely well,” said Gate City coach Steve Shockley. “It was what a state doubles finals ought to be, about as close as you can get.”

Ferguson, who, along with Funkhouser, will play for Emory & Henry College next fall, admitted that this year’s state tournament was unusually hectic because of all the weather scheduling snafus. He did not, however, blame any of that for Saturday’s defeat.

“Luke played really well today. I missed some shots, but we still ended up taking it to a tiebreaker. I thought the second set was one of the best sets of tennis we’d played all year,” Ferguson said.

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