The Deerfield-Windsor girls tennis team poses for a photo Tuesday after winning the GISA Region 3-AAA tournament and punching its ticket to next week’s team state tournament in Augusta. (Special Photo)
ALBANY — Deerfield-Windsor tennis coach Meredith Gruhl wasn’t sure how her Lady Knights would respond this season after losing three key seniors from last year’s Final 4 team.
The Lady Knights haven’t missed a beat this season and won their third straight GISA Region 3-AAA championship Tuesday at Darton State College.
“We just kind of carried on,” Gruhl said. “You never know what you are going to get, but we reloaded with some outstanding 8th graders.”
The DWS girls beat second-place Brookwood by six points and were led by region doubles champions Joyner Tyson and Amy Rao, who went 3-0 on Tuesday and only lost a combined four games.
The DWS boys finished third behind Brookwood and Southland, but the Knights’ No. 1 doubles team of Reid Wright and Will Calhoun didn’t lose a set all day to claim the region doubles championship.
The Lady Knights earned a trip to Augusta next week to play for the team state championship. On Tuesday, No. 1 singles player Sarah Perrine went 2-1 to earn the No. 3 seed for the state tournament, while No. 2 singles player Katerina Mathes earned the No. 4 seed after losing to Perrine in a consolation match and finishing the day 1-2. Stephanie Mathes won her opener at No. 3 singles before falling in a third-set tiebreaker in her second match.
Tyson and Rao picked up three easy wins, while the DWS No. 2 doubles team of Gabby Pinner and Lilia Sullivan went 2-1 with their only loss coming to Tyson and Rao.
“(Tyson and Rao) each have a different type of game they bring to the table,” Gruhl said. “They complement each other very well. Joyner has power on the baseline, and Amy has wonderful hands at the net.”
Gruhl also added that Pinner and Sullivan had the “match of their lives” when they opened Tuesday with a victory against Brookwood’s No. 1 doubles team of Ariel Watt and Emmaline Brannon.
“They would have given anybody a run for their money that day,” Gruhl said of Pinner and Sullivan.
On the boys side, Deerfield’s Tyler Lowe (No. 1 singles) and Fletcher Cromartie (No. 2 singles) both went 1-1 on Tuesday, while Rob Pilcher lost his opener at No. 3 singles.
Deerfield’s Ben Hoopes and Cohen Bonner lost at No. 2 doubles in their first match, while Wright and Calhoun — both former state champions — dominated the doubles tournament.
Wright, who won a state doubles title last year with Robert Newsome, and Calhoun, who won a state doubles title in 2012 with Pete Langstaff, lost just three games in their first five sets before beating Brookwood’s Jud Jones and Garrett Elmore in a tiebreaker to claim the region title.
“It seemed pretty logical to put (Wright and Calhoun) together, and they played so well (Tuesday),” Gruhl said. “Their first set they only gave up three points. They peaked at the right time. I have to say, that when the lights come on they come on.”