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Deerfield girls tennis team finishes runner-up at state

Deerfield-Windsor is defeated by Weber in GISA Class AAA championship

Deerfield-Windsor girls tennis coach Meredith Gruhl, back, fourth from left, poses for a photo with her team on Monday. The Lady Knights went 2-1 in Monday’s GISA Class AAA team state championship to finish as state runners-up behind Weber. (Special Photo)

Deerfield-Windsor girls tennis coach Meredith Gruhl, back, fourth from left, poses for a photo with her team on Monday. The Lady Knights went 2-1 in Monday’s GISA Class AAA team state championship to finish as state runners-up behind Weber. (Special Photo)

MACON — A season that started with plenty of question marks nearly ended with a state championship.

Instead, the Deerfield-Windsor girls tennis team settled for a runner-up finish in Monday’s GISA Class AAA team state tournament — but that was just fine with Lady Knights coach Meredith Gruhl, who watched her youthful team grow during the season and exceed expectations.

The Lady Knights lost three starters to graduation from last year’s team that finished third in the state, but eighth-graders Sarah Perrine and Lilia Sullivan helped turn a rebuilding year into a reloading year.

“We did have a big graduation last year and lost three players,” Gruhl said. “But to reload with the quality girls we had was a gift. They came in as eighth-graders and carried their weight. Without them we couldn’t have gotten as far as we did to win region and get all the way to the championship match.”

Perrine stepped into the No. 1 singles position, while Sullivan teamed up with Gabby Pinnero at No. 2 doubles. Both the No. 2 doubles team and the No. 1 doubles team of Amy Rao — the team’s lone senior — and Joyner Tyson finished 3-0 on Monday.

Also for DWS, Katerina Mathes went 1-2 at No. 2 singles and Stephanie Mathes finished 2-1 at No. 3 singles.

The Lady Knights opened the state tournament with a 4-1 victory against Heritage School and then beat Augusta Prep 3-2 in the semifinals. Weber, last season’s state runner-up, won the championship match 3-2.