The more experienced team came away with the win.
Senior-laden Radford took a 5-3 victory over Gate City at the Virginia-Wise Humphreys Tennis Complex to advance to Saturday’s state championship match at Virginia Tech.
The Lady Bobcats will take on Maggie Walker at 9 a.m. in a match of defending state champions.
Maggie Walker defeated Wise Central last year to win the Class 2 championship, while Radford captured the Class 1 crown. Radford moved into Class 2 this school year.
Gate City is no stranger to state tennis titles either. The Lady Blue Devils have a string of state titles, including championships from the 2014, 2015 and 2016 seasons.
This season, however, Gate City is a younger squad. Despite their youth, the Lady Blue Devils advanced to the state semifinals — where they ran into a much more seasoned team.
Experience played a big role in the final outcome, according to Lady Bobcats coach Mark Sarver.
“We had four seniors on this team. The four of them have been a part of two state titles and one runner-up. It’s a real deep team. It’s an older team and that might have helped today as much as anything,” Sarver said. “Gate City I think has a young team and I think that’s what helped us today.”
Gate City jumped out to an early lead with a 6-0, 6-1 win by Haley Williams over Radford’s Sarah Ward.
The win was the only quick match of the day.
The semifinal clash lasted nearly five hours with the three final matches ending just minutes apart.
With Radford leading 3-2, the doubles team of Logan Graham and Harper Minarik defeated Gate City’s Olivia Dishner and Williams 6-4, 7-5.
Just seconds later, Gate City’s Hope Spivey and Sarah Arnold completed a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Radford’s Keeleigh Cormany and Mallory Wood.
Mere minutes after the two doubles matches concluded, Radford’s Kathleen Reuwer defeated Kaley Jenkins 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 in a singles contest that lasted more than 4½ hours.
“That was kind of like a swing match to the whole thing. I think they felt like that was a good shot for them and we felt like that was a good shot for us. And our girl did a good job of coming back,” Sarver noted.
“Not much separated the two teams. And it was a classy match, too. I think Gate City did an incredible job here of putting this on at UVa-Wise. They got a referee and had a trainer. It was just a classy thing that they did.”