GLEN ALLEN, Va. — The members of the W.T. Woodson girls’ tennis team waited anxiously and kept their eyes peeled on the courts at Deep Run High School on Saturday morning. Reaching the Virginia Class 6 tennis championship match for the second straight season, the team was seeking redemption after a title loss to Oakton last year left it short of its goal.
And behind a strong showing from Kentucky-bound senior Lexi Merrill and five singles wins, that’s exactly what the Cavaliers got, claiming the first Virginia girls’ state tennis championship in school history with a 5-0 defeat of Kellam. The title was decided after freshman Kaitlin Lemair won her match, 7-5, 6-2, securing the fifth point needed to knock off the Knights.
“It’s been hard to take it one day at a time, but we have,” Woodson Coach Susie Hamrock said.
Merrill, who has lost only one singles match in her Cavaliers career — the state championship match in her freshman year — once again showed why she is one of the best in the state, winning, 6-0, 6-2, against Kellam’s Amanda Yermal. Merrill’s only hiccup of the morning was falling behind 2-1 in the second set, but she quickly recovered and pulled away for the victory.
“I think our team overall was excited for the match,” Merrill said. “I mean, there are always nerves, but I think our team handled them well. We played last year and lost in the finals, so I think this year we were like, ‘Okay, come on, we know what it takes to get there.’ We just needed to take it one step further.”
Other single match wins that contributed to the title included Woodson junior Jess Lemair winning her match, 6-1, 6-0. Freshman Sarah Livingston prevailed, 6-0, 6-1, and sophomore Camryn Kim won, 6-1, 6-0.
“I think the coaching was great this season, and we have a great team and great freshmen coming in, and that has made our team very deep,” Jess Lemair said. “So we have good players all throughout the lineup.”
In the Virginia Class 5 team title match at Glen Allen High School, Deep Run defeated Thomas Jefferson, 5-1. Deep Run won the first three singles matches before Jefferson took the fourth. But after Deep Run’s Jessica Wen beat Jefferson’s Kelly Mao, Deep Run went up 4-1.
Doubles started to decide the fifth and final win of the match, with Brooke Connatser and Audrey Butterworth defeating Keely Wan and Siona Prasad, 6-1, 6-1. Jefferson’s lone win came from Lucy Alejandro, who earned a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Lindsay O’Neill.
Other singles-match wins that contributed to the title for Deep Run included Connatser’s 6-0, 6-3 victory over Wan; Butterworth’s 6-0, 6-0 win over Prasad; and Wen’s 6-2, 6-2 victory over Mao.