published Thursday, May 24th, 2012

Notre Dame's Lady Irish hold on to win A/AA tennis crown

Notre Dame's Katie Joyce celebrates a point during her match against Christian Academy of Knoxville's Barbara Smith at Spring Fling in Murfreesboro, Tenn., on Wednesday, May 23, 2012.
Notre Dame's Katie Joyce celebrates a point during her match against Christian Academy of Knoxville's Barbara Smith at Spring Fling in Murfreesboro, Tenn., on Wednesday, May 23, 2012.
Photo by Jake Daniels.

Class A/AA girls' state championship

NOTRE DAME 4

CHRISTIAN ACADEMY OF KNOXVILLE 3

Singles: Katie Joyce (ND) def. Barbara Smith, 6-0, 6-1; Haleigh Chastain (CAK) def. Sarah Joyce, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5; Leighton Porter (CAK) def. Callie Voges, 6-1, 6-1; Danika Dorris (ND) def. Holly Chastain, 6-1, 6-3; Allyson Ross (ND) def. Caroline Murchison, 6-4, 6-2.

Doubles: S. Joyce/Dorris (ND) def. Smith/Ha. Chastain, 8-4; Porter/Ho. Chastain (CAK) def. K. Joyce/Voges, 8-2.

Records: Notre Dame 14-0; CAK 13-4.

State Championships May 21-25

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -- Sarah Joyce had experienced the feeling of letting a match slip away once Wednesday. She wasn't going to let it happen again.

And because of her resolve -- and that of her Notre Dame tennis teammates -- there's a large piece of hardware heading back to Vermont Avenue.

The Lady Irish stormed out to a 3-1 lead in singles, but Joyce was defeated 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 by Christian Academy of Knoxville's Haleigh Chastain at No. 2. The match went into doubles, and Joyce teamed with Danika Dorris to defeat Barbara Smith and Chastain 8-4 to seal the title.

"We just continued to stress that we can do this," said Joyce, a freshman. "Danika and I have been really good this year. We've been wanting this since February, and really wanted to win this."

Joyce held a 5-3 lead in the third set against Chastain, and at one point held two match points. She dropped both, and Chastain rallied to win the next four games to send the match to doubles.

In doubles, Joyce and Dorris took a 4-1 edge. CAK won the next three games, but Notre Dame won the next four for the title. Joyce served out the winning game.

"It was real frustrating," she said of the singles loss. "I knew I had it, but she's a good player and kept playing. That made things a little nervous when they came back in doubles, but we knew we had the talent to win the match and had to do it.

"We just couldn't choke like I did in singles."

Notre Dame assistant coach Gary McIntyre noted that when Chastain and Smith started to come back in doubles, he did the best thing he could do -- let them sort it out.

"I did tell them to take care of their serve, but the best thing I did was just move away and let them play," he said. "They've been a good team all year -- they knew what to do."

Dorris, Katie Joyce and Allyson Ross claimed singles wins for the Lady Irish (14-0).

"I'm just thrilled to death," Notre Dame coach Anne Ricksecker said. "At the beginning of the season, the girls started with the idea that they wanted to go to state, and they did what they had to do. They worked hard and just continued to play.

"They knew that if Sarah lost that match, it would go to doubles, but they were able to take that point, and that took a lot of heart."

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