While her opponents are charging the net or trying to hit difficult winners, Loudoun County's Mindy Hsiao is content to wait on the baseline, just trying to keep the ball in play.
Hsiao's strategy paid off yesterday at Loudoun Valley in the form of a 6-2, 6-0 victory over Casey Bartok at No. 1 singles. Her win was one of five singles victories that gave the Raiders a quick 5-1 triumph over the Vikings, a third consecutive Virginia AA Region II championship and a trip to the state tournament, where they will defend the title.
"If I see a good shot I can put away, then I'll try it," said Hsiao who has played Bartok five times this season, winning the final four matches. "Most times I'm patient enough to sit back on the baseline."
Loudoun County (17-3) wasted no time building its advantage. Sophomore Amy Sarver was the first to close out her match, defeating Cassie McClain, 6-1, 6-0, at No. 6. Hsiao was next, and she was followed closely by freshman Laura Halley at No. 3, who handled Loudoun Valley's Eline Muhl, 6-0, 6-2.
Vikings senior Tessa Carrington briefly halted Loudoun County's run of victories, beating Madison McGuire, 6-1, 6-4, at No. 2, but inspired play from Raiders seniors Lauren Dyer (No. 4) and Mary Kearl (No. 5) gave the Raiders the victory.
"I felt like we had to get it done in singles," Loudoun County Coach Randy Hanger said. "We were a better singles team this year than we were doubles."
In the four previous meetings between the teams this season, the Vikings came out on top three times -- Loudoun County's only losses of the year. All four matches ended 5-4, however, including Loudoun Valley's win in the Dulles District championship.
Dyer's motivated effort made a major difference for the Raiders yesterday. She was winless in four tries against Loudoun Valley's Katia McClain before yesterday, but broke that trend at an opportune time.
"I've been kind of letting down the team," Dyer said. "I hadn't beat that girl yet, and I really pulled through for the team. I just love contributing."
Loudoun Valley's season, which included the program's first regular season district title in 19 years, finished at 20-2.