The competition was so intense that it took all four days of the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference tennis tournament to decide the winner.

"The school with the most players going into the semifinals was likely the team to win the tournament," said Lackey Coach Ken Griffith, last year's All-Extra Coach of the Year.

He was right.

La Plata had the most players in the tournament at the highest available seeds and scored 12 points to win the tournament title. The Warriors were carried by titles in boys' singles, girls and mixed doubles.

"We're stuck in second," said Griffith, who's team finished with nine points. "But coming in second after losing five players, I'll take that."

The Warriors' No. 1 singles player, Daniel Barnes, defeated Northern's Albert Fitch, an All-Met honorable mention selection last year, 6-4, 6-2, to take first place in boys' singles.

Fitch had been unbeaten for two straight years at No. 1 singles. Barnes avenged a regular season loss to Fitch in which he won the first set and had a 4-1 lead in the second before twisting his ankle.

Fitch went on to win the match 5-7, 7-5, 6-3 and handed Barnes his only loss of the season April 30.

"I was motivated going into the match because I knew he hadn't been beaten and I wanted to try to put an end to that," Barnes said. "I had a lot of fun playing it and was real intense."

Northern Coach Eric Stroh praised Barnes's speed, strength and consistency of his groundstroke, but said Fitch's serve "getting away from him" was also significant in the loss.

"With many players, as your serve goes, so goes the rest of your game," said Stroh, whose team is 15-1 overall and finished 13-1 in conference play.

La Plata's girls' doubles tandem of Melissa Loeper and Erica Hocking contributed the Warriors' victory with a 7-5, 6-3 decision over Northern's Dale Miller and Kaylie Thompson in the finals.

"It was a tough match the first time, so we were both nervous," Loeper said.

Warriors seniors Matt Chisholm and Jocelyn Gay captured the mixed doubles crown defeating Lackey seniors Michael Lai and Maelina Sakaio, 6-3, 7-5.

"I knew that would be the toughest match they would have to play so they had to show up," said La Plata Coach Eulo Regala. "That was one of the better matches they played together."

Lackey (12-5, 8-2) earned nine points in the tournament thanks to solid play from girls' No. 1 singles player Kelly Lai.

Lai, last year's All-Extra Player of the Year, defeated Vi Le of Westlake in two straight sets, 6-0, 6-3. Apart from her physical skill, Griffith thinks Lai's mental toughness is the best aspect to her game.

"She has the mindset to stay in there and do whatever it takes, no matter how long it takes, to win the point," said Griffith, who has been Lai's personal coach since the seventh grade.

Lackey's girls' doubles tandem of Heather Hancock and Jenna Davis placed third.

"Really, everyone played well," Griffith said. "[Regional] playoffs start this week, and I hope we continue to play well."

No. 1 singles player Kelly Lai of Lackey High School returns a ball. Daniel Barnes of La Plata High School returns the ball at the SMAC Tennis Finals in Waldorf.