By KEVIN WEAKS
MURFREESBORO — It came down to doubles.
Then, it came down to a tiebreaker.
Finally, it came an end.
The No. 1-seeded tandem Maddie King and Tara Elam were shut out in a seven-point tiebreaker, suffering a 9-8 (7-0) loss to Anna Grace Wolfe and Catherine Wolfe of Columbia Academy in the match that decided the two squads’ TSSAA Class A-AA Girls’ State Team Tournament semifinal match Tuesday evening at Old Fort Park.
The match was delayed nearly three hours from its original start time of 3 p.m., and then the two teams embarked on a marathon match lasting nearly four hours in all before the Lady Bulldogs clinched the 4-3 team win in doubles play.
Union City’s Ellen Bearden and Jenna Miller, who each lost their singles matches, kept the team portion going when they posted an 8-4 win over Samie Anderson and Baylie Farris at the No. 2 doubles spot.
Ironically, King and Elam had won their singles matches before losing in doubles. That tandem will stick around in Murfreesboro for another shot at a state title, however, as they have qualified for the A-AA Girls’ Doubles State Tournament, to be played Thursday and Friday.
UC’s other loss of the day came at No. 5 singles as freshman Alex Parks suffered a straight-set defeat.
“Before the match started, I told the girls that I wasn’t nervous,” UC head coach Elizabeth Miller said. “To be the only public school left, we’re playing against private schools that not only have indoor facilities and private lessons for the players but also have a larger student body than we have. We have girls who do so much and are so well-rounded in their lives. So, for them to even get here, with everything they have going on, you just can’t ask for anything more from them.”
It appeared the UC’s top-seeded duo would roll to an easy win, putting the burden on Bearden and Miller two courts down.
Elam and King broke serve twice, while King fired three straight aces in her first game to serve as UC jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the match.
But, the Wolfe pair then won seven of the next 10 games, including three straight after falling behind 6-4 to claim a 7-6 advantage.
With King serving two more aces and then UC’s pair breaking CA’s serve again, the Lady Twisters held an 8-7 lead in the match, needing one more game to win.
The Lady Bulldogs won the next, though, and then rolled up seven consecutive points to take the tiebreaker, the match and the team win.
“You want to say it came down to this last one, but in team tennis, you win together and you lose together,” Miller said. “There were three singles who lost their matches tonight. I was happy that all my seniors got a win in the state tournament and all our top four at least felt a win in that environment.”
In tying the team match score at 3-all, Bearden and Miller broke serve five times in their doubles win, including one awarded to the Union City duo when the umpire overruled a call.
The match extended into the doubles on the singles play of King and Elam.
King cruised to a 6-2 win in the first set of her match with Caroline White and then won 7-5 in the tiebreaker to take the second set.
Elam, meanwhile, split the first two sets of her match against Abigail Wolfe, which lasted over two hours.
Elam won 6-4 in the opening set but then seemed frustrated by the CA fans’ cheering in the second set, a noise that seemed to grow louder with each point in Wolfe’s 7-5 win. The Lady Twister veteran regrouped, though, and closed with another 6-4 win.
“I felt that if it came down to anyone in a match like that, I knew Tara would be OK,” Miller said. “She’s the one who’s going to battle to the very end. She never gives up, and she’s always been that way about everything. I’m just so proud of her.”
Bearden and Anna Grace Wolfe went to three sets in their No. 4 singles match, Bearden’s dominant 6-0 win in the second set sandwiched by losses of 6-4 and 6-0.
In the first set, Wolfe rallied after trailing 3-2.
The other two singles matches were fairly decisive straight set wins for the Lady Bulldogs as Anderson took a 6-2, 6-1 win over Miller at No. 3 and Catherine Wolfe grabbed a 6-0, 6-2 verdict over Parks at No. 5.
The loss wrapped up an otherwise stellar campaign for the Lady Twister program. UC finished the season with a 15-2 record and captured its second straight state team tourney berth and fourth all-time.
Elam, Bearden and Miller are the team’s three seniors.
Columbia Academy (20-0) was scheduled to play Chattanooga Christian School (14-1) this afternoon at 1:30 in the state title match. CCS knocked Christ Academy of Knoxville 4-2 on Tuesday.
CA is making its state tournament debut this week, while the Lady Chargers are seeking their ninth state team title all-time.
Sports reporter Kevin Weaks can be contacted by email at email@example.com.
Published in The Messenger 5.22.13