BURLINGTON — Cardinal Gibbons tennis players Maggie Reilly and Summer Jacobs had already been through one marathon match earlier this week, and in the NCHSAA 3A state championship match on Saturday they did everything they could to avoid another.
Both girls came from behind to win in their singles matches, propelling the Crusaders to their second state title in the past three years with a 5-1 victory over Weddington at the Burlington Tennis Center.
Gibbons (28-1) reached the finals by edging Terry Sanford 5-4 on Wednesday in a 41/2 match, requiring all of their intensity, energy, poise and tennis smarts. Jacobs and her doubles partner Natalie Freeman saved six match points to win in a tie-breaker and clinch the finals berth.
“I was so excited for our team that we were able to finish today in five games,” said Jacobs, who lost her first set Saturday to Morgan Wetherbee 2-6 but then came back with 6-1, 10-4 wins at No. 4 singles.
Reilly, a junior who was a part of the 2011 Gibbons state champs, fell behind Hayley Hinson 5-0 in the first set, then won 13 consecutive games for a 7-5, 6-0 victory at No. 5
“I was really nervous in the beginning but I knew I had to settle down and start making my shots,” said Reilly, who also won the 2013 Sportsmanship Award after the match. “I didn’t play my freshman year, so this one is definitely more special. I’m really proud of my teammates.”
The wins at Nos. 4 and 5 singles reminded Gibbons coach Andrew Tuttle, who has coached the Crusaders to four championship matches and two state titles of the marathon match.
“It looked like we might go to doubles 3-all just like Wednesday, but that was a great job on both their parts,” Tuttle said about Reilly and Jacobs. “I’ve seen players get down 5-0 and win a set, but normally they don’t win 13 straight. Maggie just got the momentum on her side, kept the ball in play and scored the points. ”
Gibbons freshman Lizzie Galush (No. 2 singles), who won MVP, easily prevailed over Charlotte Uleha 6-1, 6-1. Weddington’s lone win came when 3A state champion Heidi Swope defeated Devin Knors 6-0, 6-0 at No. 1.
Freeman (No. 3) won 6-0, 6-1 over Lacey Hunter, while Kate Freed took No. 6 with a 6-0, 6-3 win over Ashley Hinson.