Centreville's top three girls tennis players, senior Laura James -- a three-time All-Met -- and sophomores Kristen James and Jessica Vanderdys, cannot win a state title by themselves. Or maybe they can.
The James sisters and Vanderdys combined for five victories today to lead the defending Virginia AAA champion to a 6-3 semifinal win over Mills Godwin of Richmond. The three have a combined singles and doubles record of 99-1 this season in dual matches.
"It's the good math," Laura James said. "It's in our favor, but we always feel pressure. We want the team to do well and for this to be a team effort."
Centreville (17-0) will play Douglas Freeman (15-2) of Richmond Saturday in a rematch of last year's final at the Raintree Swim and Racquet Club at 11 a.m. Last season, Vanderdys and sophomore doubles partner Jenny Nolen won the decisive final match at No. 2 doubles to give Centreville a 5-4 victory.
"[Freeman] lost their number one player, so I'm pretty confident we can win," Centreville Coach Ellen Parker said. "After today, we'll be pumped."
The Wildcats looked good from the start, as Laura James, Kristen James and Vanderdys each won easily. Kristen James, a 6-0, 6-0 winner over Elizabeth Kristofak at No. 2 singles, finished her match in 45 minutes. Vanderdys followed with a 6-0, 6-2 victory at No. 3 singles, and Laura James defeated Elizabeth Law, 6-0, 6-3, at No. 1 singles.
Laura James hit 14 winners in her match against Law, but more importantly, was consistent. Law could not match Laura James's patience, hitting 28 unforced errors, several coming after long rallies. Laura James hit 18 unforced errors, but half of those came in the seventh and eight games of the second set after she was ahead, 6-0, 5-1.
"I was just trying to be consistent," Laura James said. "That was my game plan. Just keep it in."
Laura James then clinched the match with her sister, Kristen, at No. 1 doubles. After falling behind 0-2, the James sisters won the final 12 games to defeat Law and Ari Pollack, 6-2, 6-0.
"We were really nervous coming down here," Laura James said. "We knew Godwin (12-4) was a strong team all the way through."