Gate City's Emily and Rosa Smith confer between points during Friday's 2A state tennis doubles finals in Radford. (George Thwaites photo)
RADFORD — Gate City's Rosa and Emily Smith have come far as a doubles team since last year's 6-2, 6-2 loss to George Mason's Kynadi and Carrinton Mauney in last year's Group A state doubles finals.
They just haven't come quite far enough to depose the defending state champs.
The Mauney sisters held on for a 6-4, 5-7, 7-6 (8-6) win over the Smiths in Friday's VHSL 2A doubles championship match at Radford University's Tennis Complex.
"We fought right to the very end. It doesn't get better than that. That's what a state match should come down to ... the last two points," said Gate City coach Delonda Spivey, whose entire squad finally enters the fray in Saturday's 2A team tournament championship clash with Wilson Memorial.
The history between the doubles finalists picked up a new wrinkle Thursday when Rosa beat Kynadi for the state singles crown.
With Rosa and Kynadi being the eldest of their respective doubles teams, there is room for the rivalry to intensify for at least one more year.
"This match was better than last year's and I feel that if we see them next year, we'll be ready. If we could have a rematch right now, I think we would," Rosa said.
In Friday's semifinals, the Smith sisters eliminated Wilson Memorial's Heather Shields and Landon Aud, 6-1, 6-3.
In boys doubles tennis action, both area squads in the 2A/1A state draw were handed double-ought walking papers in Friday's semifinals. The Gate City duo of Zach Parks and Peyton Palmer was beaten 6-0, 6-0 by George Mason's Jacob Morris and Nate Jones, and Riverheads' Simon Willard and Freddie Roberts beat the Norton combo of Blake Plentka and Austin Skeens 6-0, 6-0.
"We weren't hitting like we normally do and they were hitting it fantastic. We'd really never seen anyone like them. There isn't that kind of competition where we're from," said Parks, a junior who has a chance to return with his sophomore partner next season.
"John Ferguson and Luke Funkhouser, who went to Emory & Henry College? I think we need to hit more with them."
The Raiders doubles team was the only 1A squad in the state represented in this year's VHSL tennis tournament. While 1A girls teams were provided distinct regional and state brackets, 1A boys teams were ultimately folded into the 2A regional mix while regular season-play was already under way.
"I don't like 1A schools having to play 2A schools and most of the 1A schools never make it to regions because they get put out in (conference). I think it's unfair because you end up with only 2A schools being represented," Skeens said. "Does college pit Division II schools against Division I schools for a national championship? No, they don't. And there's a reason they don't."
Willard and Roberts beat Morris and Jones 5-7, 6-2, 6-4 for the state championship.comments powered by Disqus