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STORY: Jamestown boys, Tabb girls win Region I tennis tournament
On a long day at Jamestown, the Eagles’ boys and Tabb girls gain Region I tennis championships..
By SONNY DEARTH
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JAMES CITY — It took all day, but for the Tabb High girls and Jamestown boys tennis teams, it was well worth the wait.
The Tigers won their first Region I girls championship, upsetting Lafayette 5-3 Saturday on Jamestown’s courts in a match that took 5 hours, 15 minutes. A few minutes later, the Jamestown boys began a grueling, three-hour-plus match that provided a 5-1 victory over defending champion Courtland for their second regional championship in three years.
"It was good to get a little bit of payback," Eagles coach Bob Artis said, and his comment applied to both matches. Tabb reversed a 7-2 regular-season loss to the Bay Rivers District champion Rams, and Jamestown — blessed with three freshman starters — reversed last year’s 5-1 regional semifinal loss to Courtland.
BRD singles champion Alex Jenssen was part of Tabb’s clinching No. 2 doubles team, but it was her partner — junior Malia Carpio, a first-year Tiger — who hit the winning shot, a forehand that went untouched in the alley. She swore she was just trying to get the ball back in play, but her surprising winner started a celebration that moved many of the Tabb camp to tears.
"I was really, really nervous," Carpio said, likely echoing the sentiments of many clustered around the courts.
Her shot completed a 6-4, 7-6 (9-7) victory over Madeline Jones and Ali Wheeler. Jenssen and Carpio trailed 5-2 in the second set before rallying, then overcame a 6-3 deficit in the tiebreaker to give Tabb English department chair Gary Williams, a military retiree, a title in his first year of coaching their team. Jones and Wheeler had saved a pair of match points while down 6-5 in games.
Tabb and Jamestown will advance to the state Group AA team semifinals June 9 against the Region III champions. The girls will play at Radford University, the boys at Virginia Tech.
Tigers No. 5 Carolyn Relton and No. 2 Sarah Rowe beat opponents who had defeated them in the regular season, paving the way for Tabb’s 4-2 singles lead. All three doubles matches were close before Jenssen and Carpio broke the tension. The dislocated shoulder suffered before the tournament by regular starter Allie Mitchell cost Lafayette, which was seeking to be the first team other than Jamestown to win the championship since 1998.
"I knew it was gonna be close because I didn’t have my 6," Lafayette coach Pat Thompson said. "It’s disappointing because it was our first real shot."
Supporters of both teams struggled to find shade, and players’ breaks were long and common.
The boys match was physical and intense, and it started about 2½ hours late due to the girls marathon. Wins by senior captain Jacob Braig and freshmen Seth Berl and Josh Hunt got Jamestown going. Another ninth-grader, Elliot Mee, beat Cougars standout Michael Mercer 7-5, 6-1 at No. 2 but was taken to a hospital afterward due to what Artis called "terrible cramps." That left the Eagles with uncertain doubles prospects, but they avoided that issue when No. 3 player Wills FauntLeRoy outlasted Mercer’s brother, Brian, 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 for the clincher in 3½ hours.
"It took forever. That was, without a doubt, our hardest match of the year," Artis said. "You had to be tough. None of my kids slept last night.
"As soon as Grafton and Courtland came to scout us, that really put the focus to ’em."
TABB 5, LAFAYETTE 3
SINGLES -- Ford (L) d. Haase 7-5, 6-2; Rowe (T) d. Goode 6-4, 2-6, 6-3; Jenssen (T) d. Wheeler 6-1, 6-2; Jones (L) d. Carpio 6-4, 1-6, 6-3; Relton (T) d. L. Mitchell 1-6, 6-2, 6-4; Bahr (T) d. McGlynn 6-3, 6-1. DOUBLES -- Haase-Rowe were tied with Ford-Goode 6-4, 4-6, did not finish; Jenssen-Carpio d. Wheeler-Jones 6-4, 7-6 (9-7); L. Mitchell-Woods d. Relton-Bahr 6-4, 7-6 (7-2).
JAMESTOWN 5, COURTLAND 1
SINGLES -- Ja. Braig (J) d. Coleman 6-3, 6-1; Mee (J) d. M. Mercer 7-5, 6-1; FauntLeRoy (J) d. B. Mercer 6-4, 4-6, 7-5; Hunt (J) d. Livesay 7-6 (7-3), 6-2; Hundley (C) d. Palmer 6-1, 6-1; Berl (J) d. Bradley 6-0, 6-2.
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