The South Lakes High School doubles tandem of Matt Rosner and Peter Knapp defeated F.W. Cox's Eric Geshekter and Brett Baylor, 6-2, 6-2, to clinch the Virginia AAA team championship, five matches to four, over the Virginia Beach school yesterday at Jefferson District Park.

This was the first state championship for South Lakes Coach Paul Kaplan after finishing as runner-up in 1984 and 1985. This season also marked the first time the Seahawks have won the Great Falls District championship.

"That was our goal from the start," said Kaplan. "When we came to practice, we thought district, regional and then state."

For Knapp, a junior, playing a part in the deciding victory was even more gratifying. With South Lakes holding a four matches to one lead, he was in a position to secure the state title but lost to Geshekter, 2-6, 7-6 (8-6), 6-4, in a grueling 3-hour 45-minute match.

"I told him that I was glad it was him," said Kaplan. "Because he was so upset after losing that tough match to Geshekter."

In the best match of the day, Knapp won the first set, 6-2, and seemed to have everything in control. Then, down by 2-5 in the second, he came back to take a 6-5 lead. But Geshekter collected himself and killed two match points, and eventually won the tiebreaker and the third set, which Kaplan felt left his team emotionally numb.

"I saw all of their faces after the singles was over," said Kaplan. "And Peter {Knapp} having lost that after having all those match points there, it was hard to get their attention. I actually had to yell at them to get them back in the frame of mind to want to play. But once they got rolling, it was okay."

After losing his composure in his singles match, Knapp (14-4) "figured that since I was playing the same guy in the doubles, that I would direct all my emotions to that."

The pressure became even greater on Knapp after the South Lakes No. 1 doubles team of John Sullivan and Ketsana Vongsavat lost to Sean White and Scott Branum. That clipped the Seahawks' margin to 4-3. And on the other court, the Seahawks' Jeet Bhide and Eric Lee were down, 4-6, 0-3, to the team of Chadwick Hartley and David Monger.

"We felt a lot of pressure but we knew we could do it," said Knapp.

All season long, South Lakes's strategy has been predicated on the success of the lower half of its singles lineup. No. 4 Bhide, No. 5 Knapp and No. 6 Lee finished the season with a combined record of 50-4 with both Bide and Lee undefeated.

Outside of Knapp's loss, things went as planned with Bhide defeating Cox's Baylor, 6-2, 6-1, and Lee winning, 6-3, 6-3. The Seahawks also got a boost from the top half of their singles with No. 2 Sullivan defeating Branum, 6-4, 3-6, 6-2, and Vongsavat coming back to overcome Hartley, 4-6, 6-4, 6-0.

Two-time state champion and Cox No. 1 Sean White easily dispatched the feisty Rosner, 6-1, 6-2, in the other singles match.

In the final doubles match, Hartley and Monger won the third set, 7-6, over Lee and Bhide after splitting the first two sets, 6-3, 6-7.