Sophomore Amy Sarver, the No. 6 seed for the Loudoun County girls' tennis team, had made quick work of her opponent in a Virginia AA semifinal against Abingdon on Friday morning at Radford University. Shortly afterward, she decided to get comfortable -- and work on evening her "tennis tan" -- as she cheered on the rest of her teammates.
Sarver peeled off her tennis shoes and socks and rolled up her sleeves, and was still standing barefoot leaning against the high fence that led to one of the tennis courts when freshman Laura Halley approached.
"Did you win?" asked Halley, who had just recorded a 6-2, 6-2 victory in the No. 3 spot over her Abingdon opponent.
"Yeah," Sarver replied. "We've all won."
After a quick look around confirmed for Halley that only second seed Madison McGuire was still on the court, the reality of that statement sank in.
"So, we already won?" Halley asked, though she didn't wait for an answer. "Nice!"
The first five Raiders to emerge from their singles matches were victorious, giving Loudoun County a 5-0 victory over Abingdon without ever having to play doubles. Sarver and fourth-seeded Lauren Dyer had turned in 6-1, 6-0 scores, while No. 1 seed Mindy Hsiao recorded a 6-1, 6-3 victory and fifth-seeded Mary Kearl won, 6-2, 6-4.
With McGuire making a comeback in the second set of her match and looking as though she would push Abingdon's Morgan Miller to a third set, officials stepped in to suspend play and called the match.
"That's it," Loudoun County Coach Randy Hanger yelled to the girls. "Let's go get a big lunch at Sonic to celebrate."
The Raiders have become quite accustomed to visiting the burger joint in Radford. This is the third consecutive year Loudoun County advanced to the state playoffs, winning the Virginia AA title a year ago and going for a second yesterday. (The Raiders were scheduled to play Jamestown yesterday, but that match ended too late to be included in this edition.)
"It helps in some ways playing the same team again, because you've already done some scouting," Hanger said. "But the tradeoff to that is that Jamestown has an incredible amount of experience."
As did several of the Raiders. Hsiao, McGuire, Dyer and Kearl started a year ago on the championship team. And even though Hanger said many who aren't familiar with the team aspect of tennis felt as though standout Blakeley Griffith -- last year's top seed who is now playing for Tennessee -- was the reason behind the Raiders' victory a year ago, their return this season proves otherwise.
"We work so well together as a team," Hsiao said. "You can even see it on the court. When you're in the point, you have to be focused, but when we switch sides or take a water break, we're always out there encouraging each other, pumping each other up. In case someone is down or tired, that just gives them an extra push.
"It was amazing to win last year with it being the first state title for the school. But to be able to do it again and make it two in a row . . . that would be awesome."
Note: Loudoun Valley's Casey Bartok and Tessa Carrington were defeated in the Virginia AA girls' doubles semifinals Friday, losing to the Jamestown duo of Kelly Collins and Mary Kate James, 6-1, 7-5.